On June 4th, with location planning and on-site support help from Max Fagin I traveled from my home in Northwest Indiana to Willow Hill, Illinois (population 250) to try and capture the ISS transiting (passing in front of) the Moon.
The day began the night before actually at 10 PM, with my mom. I was originally planning to make the 6.5 hour round-trip alone, but last minute, as I was pulling out of the garage, she texted me and said:
“Have you left yet? Would I be able to come with?”
I was elated. No one really ever attends these usually spontaneous, sometimes planned runs to try and capture the universe with my camera, but my mom wanted to join me. She hustled out of bed, got changed, and upon getting into the car said, “ROAD TRIP!” It was just that, a road trip. After 3.5 long hours in the car, at around 2:30 AM we arrived at our original location, which an hour later got fogged over and I couldn’t see the Moon clearly anymore, which was obviously a problem. The ISS lunar transit was scheduled to occur at 4:01:20 AM CDT (hh:mm:ss), and now the field I was standing in after traveling 3.5 hours one-way, in the middle of southeastern Illinois was fogging over?
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said.
This is the nature of these adventures. Very spontaneous and quite adrenaline filled. But I love it. So I messaged Max, “this field is fogging over, where can I go to still see the transit and get clearer skies? The fields up north that we drove though earlier looked clear.” So he sent me about 2 miles north of our original location
and I arrived there about 10 minutes before scheduled transit. I hopped out of the car, The above photo is the predicted transit line, passing from right to left. Remember, the ISS crosses the disc of the Moon in just over a second. See below photo.
That was my final location. I hopped out of the car again, had my mom hold my phone reading messages from Max and telling me the time at 15 second intervals. 3:58:30 AM…I had most of my camera stuff setup, 3:59:45 AM… I had my cameras setup but I hadn’t taken any test shots, other than the ones I took an hour earlier at the original location. 4:00:15 AM… about a minute until transit. I had test shots done and looked at for both of the cameras I was using. 4:00:30…at this point I just kept doing test shots and checking my focus again and again. “4:01:00″… My mom says. 20 seconds until scheduled transit. 4:01:10, I let my cameras both loose. “4:01:15″…5 seconds…4:01:30. I stopped both my cameras.
“That quick!?” she exclaimed.
I said yep, it happened. I took a deep breath, got back in the car, and checked both cameras as my mom began to drive home. I got it, I saw distinctly on my low resolution Canon EOS Rebels screens, I got it. I arrived back at home and got right to editing and this is the final shot I came up with.
I want to thank Max and my Mom both who I may have been short with a bit because of the quick location change and timely matter of the situation. But I would totally do this over again in a heartbeat and my next challenges are capturing the ISS transiting (passing in front of) the Sun, and hopefully this fall with Max, capturing a free flying SpaceX Dragon capsule, solar arrays deployed transiting the Moon.