How To Photograph The Space Station


98-second time exposure of the space station cutting across Cassiopeia last night — Bob King / News Tribune

Hope you got to see today’s colorful sun halo. Last night we had another fine space station pass. ZaZ checked in from Detroit Lakes with a successful observation and I imagine many others saw it given the clear weather.

The station will cross our evening sky all next week. If you’d like to photograph it yourself, here’s what you need:

  1. A camera that allows you to take a time exposure photo. Some cameras have a setting called "bulb." If you select this and press the button, the camera will expose as long as you hold your finger on the button. Other cameras may allow you to choose up to a 30-second time exposure.
  2. A tripod or other sturdy platform to hold the camera steady. Even a stepladder will do the trick.
  3. It doesn’t hurt to dial up the camera’s ISO to at least 400. The higher the number, the more sensitive the camera will be to faint light. Check your manual on how to do it.
  4. If your camera will let you do it, set the lens to its maximum opening (2.8 or 3.5) to let the most light through. Some cameras have a "night" setting that does this automatically.

Go out 10 minutes early and aim your camera in the general direction of the pass. Be sure to bring a flashlight so you can see your settings in the dark. When you spot the "moving light" of the station, press the button and expose 15 seconds or longer.

If you capture an image and would like to share it on this blog, please send it to me. I’d be thrilled to post it.

Space station pass times / Northland region

Sunday April 6 8:16-22 p.m. across the northern sky
Sunday April 6 9:52-54 p.m. across the NW sky
Monday April 7 8:38-43 p.m. high across the N-NE sky
Tuesday April 8 9:00-04 p.m. from NW going overhead!!

(On all passes shown, the station will first appear low in the northwestern sky.)