Tracking the International Space Station, July 2019

Tracking the International Space Station, July 2019

July 31st, 2019, 09:18 p.m. local time

Last night I finally got around to trying out the NightCap app for iPhone to track the International Space Station.  I considered this more of a test, given the conditions and frankly because I did not know how or if it would work.

Given the rise from NNW and descension into East, the best location for the camera was the worst location on my property.  I set the tripod up near my road, facing one streetlight and in the direction of occasional oncoming traffic.  One does not have to know anything about light pollution to know this was a bad location for a long exposure.

The problems of the matter were capped by an automobile with bright headlights driving towards me, and slowly, just as the ISS started to ascend into view.  No, it was not the cops.  But I had to make a command decision: keep tracking for the most visible part of the orbit, or stop/reposition/restart to cut out the blinding headlight glare.

I chose the former, to keep filming.  I tried my best afterward to remove the surface light pollution, at least to the point where you are able to see the ISS’s path.

Next time, I will choose a much better location, now that I know how ISS mode within NightCap works, and that it does work.  Despite the photon assault, I was very impressed with how the 100+ second exposure kept the lights from totally blinding the image; if there were no obtrusive lights, the picture would have been great.  Next time, hopefully.



I write frequently about astrophotography, technology advice, and my other interests like science fiction. I have over 30 years of experience in computer programming, information technology, and project management.

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