December 2, 2023

Brighton Journal

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A photographer captures the International Space Station crossing the sun during an astronaut’s spacewalk

A photographer captures the International Space Station crossing the sun during an astronaut’s spacewalk

A photographer captured the International Space Station (ISS) crossing the sun as two astronauts spacewalked to install solar panels.

Thierry Legault drove six hours from his home in France to a vantage point in the Netherlands so he could catch the International Space Station crossing the sun an hour after astronauts Steve Bowen and Woody “Woody” Hoburg began their spacewalk to install a new solar array outside the station.

ISS solar transit

The solar transit lasted just 0.75 of a second as the International Space Station hurtled across the face of our nearest star at 16,777 miles per hour (2,700 kilometers per hour).

Each captured frame was shot by Legault at 1/32000 of a second using an OM-1 attached to a 200mm CFF refractor with Baader Herschel wedge and Emmanuel Rietsch GPS trigger.

ISS solar transit

“Using real-time images of the Sun, I estimated the position of the major sunspot groups in vertical and horizontal directions (which depend on time and location),” says Legault. petapixel.

“I compared it to the route planned by, and tried to position myself on the opposite transit line (which was not the center of the transit vision path).”

“I never do ISS transfers from stacking or assembling,” he adds on Twitter.


Eagle-eyed viewers will have spotted sunspots on the sun’s surface in Legault’s images, which he says are larger than Earth.

“The International Space Station passed in front of three groups of sunspots in a split second,” he wrote on Facebook. “A large sunspot could swallow the Earth, but it is 300,000 times farther away from the International Space Station.”

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ISS solar transit

He adds that even though the International Space Station and the Sun appear to be close together, the Sun is a staggering 94 million miles (150 million km) from Earth while the International Space Station is 342 miles (550 km) from home.

ISS solar transit

Astronauts walk in space

NASA astronauts Bowen and Hoburg completed all of their objectives while installing an International Space Station (IROSA) solar array that would increase power generation for power channel 1A on the station’s right truss structure.

The new arrays are 60 feet long by 20 feet wide, and each new IROSA device will produce more than 20 kilowatts of electricity.

More of Legault’s work can be found on his site TwitterAnd FacebookAnd website.

Image credits: All photos by Thierry Legault.