Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ISS over Manila (April 18, 2011)

The International Space Station was scheduled to pass directly over Manila this April 18th, with a magnitude of -3.8 and an altitude of about 348 km.

With the skies over our islands virtually cloudless the last few days and nights, there was a good chance of clear seeing on this pass, especially since the space bird would do its fly-by at dawn when the atmosphere over our urban area is not as turbulent as at other times of the day. 

I was encouraged to get out of bed a couple of hours before sunrise to set up my gear in my backyard. In between puffs of smoke from my favorite mentholated lung-buster, I gazed at the stars in the dawn sky and I was happy to note that the seeing conditions were quite decent.

I opted to stack 5.6x worth of teleconverters on my supersharp 400 2.8 IS for a focal length of about 2263 mm. This should make the tiny subject a bit larger in the 7D’s frame. I pre-focused manually on the setting moon minutes before the pass. Acquiring the streaking ISS through such a narrow angle of view was tough, but I eventually caught the subject in the viewfinder a few seconds after it appeared above the NNW skyline.

This frame was the sharpest among 121 shots I took.

ISS Over Manila - April 18, 2011 (04:47:48 local time), max. mag. - 3.8, min. dist. @ 348 km, Canon 7D + EF 400 2.8 IS + Canon 2x II + Sigma 2x + Sigma 1.4x, 2263 mm, f/22, ISO 3200, 1/640 sec, manual exposure, pre-focused manually, 475B/516 support, 100% crop.

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