For those of you who purchased a Solar ND filter
to photograph the total solar eclipse we enjoyed in August of last year, you may be looking for more opportunities to use the highly specialized gear before the next total solar eclipse graces North America in April 2024. Thankfully, there's a large articificial satellite orbiting overhead which begs to be photographed as it crosses paths with the sun.
Of course, I'm talking about the International Space Station (ISS)
, a 239 x 356 x 66 ft (72.8 x 108.5 x 20 m) platform in low Earth orbit that circles the earth about 15.5 times per day. The frequency of the ISS's orbits means that there's a decent chance that its path will fall between you and the sun in the not-so-distant future. When exactly will the next ISS transit occur in your area? There's a website designed to answer that very question.
Simply enter your coordinates on the ISS TRANSIT FINDER website
(or give it permission to auto-detect your location), enter a start date and an end date (up to 30 days in the future), and a travel range from your location (up to 149 mi / 240 km), and the website will show you the dates and times of all solar (and lunar) ISS transits available for viewing from nearby locations. If you never purchased a solar filter, you can still take advantage of the lunar transits occurring in your area or you can simply pick up a solar ND filter
to take advantage of all available transits.
Use only ND filters certified for solar photography. Do not look directly at the sun. Do not frame the sun using your camera's optical viewfinder while using telephoto lenses. Use Live View for framing your composition and focusing.
Most of the tips shared for capturing the solar eclipse
apply to photographing an ISS solar transit, with the main difference being the duration of the events. When positioned in the middle of a total solar eclipse, the entire event may take several hours (with totality ranging from seconds to 7.5 minutes). However, an ISS transit of the sun or moon will last no longer than about 1.75 seconds (with typical transit times being significantly shorter). That means that you'll want to have an accurate clock available (down to the seconds), with a wired (or radio remote) trigger in your hand and your camera set to high speed continuous burst mode.