On May 28, 2014 NASA Astronaut Reid Wiseman (1st spaceflight), European Space Agency Astronaut Alexander Gerst (1st spaceflight) and Russian Cosmonaut Maxim Suraev (2nd spaceflight) will be launching to the International Space Station. Their Soyuz will blast off from Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. 
Three years ago Reid contacted me pretty much out of the blue and offered help with my STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) project "Camilla Corona". Back then Camilla, the rubber chicken, was the mascot for our mission, the Solar Dynamics Observatory. 

Reid recognized the important impact this project had and offered to help. What started then was truly something very dear and special to me. To make a long (but really great) story short, I have been following this crew's training and preparations for their mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Over the next 6 months they will be conducing a variety of scientific experiments on the station. While up there, I would like to organize a little "Photograph the ISS" campaign. 

"Photograph the ISS" 

The International Space Station orbits Earth at 260 miles altitude approx. every 90 minutes. Depending on your location you may see the Space Station more frequently, several days in a row, up to a couple of times a month. The ISS is the third brightest object in the sky and almost appears to be an airplane; except it is flying much, much higher and much, much faster than an airplane. So knowing where to look is key. A flyby can take anywhere from 1 - 4 minutes, depending on that particular orbit. 
I would like to get some of you great photographers out there motivated to look up spotting times and then find a great location (maybe iconic?) and capture a fly-by and send it to us. 

We will then send them to the astronauts on the space station and give them a little show of what they look like being "all over the world" in 90 minutes. And I have a feeling they might share it through their social media network. Of course with proper credits given. This is for non-commercial, non-profit use - the goal is to raise awareness that for over 11 years we have had humans living and working in space, showcase the importance of STEM and share beautiful photography art with the world. 

Helpful Tools to Spot the Station

Here are some helpful links on finding the a Space Station flyby:
ISS Tracker (real-time location tracker)
Spot the Station (find dates/times/coordinates of a flyby at your location)
Satellite Flybys (find dates/times/coordinates of a flyby at your location)
Flyby (IOS app, $2.99 for ISS and other satellites) 
ISS FlyOver (IOS app, $0.99 for ISS only)

How to Go-About-It?

- Find a great location for a long exposure image (flybys usually happen around dawn and dusk). This could be a famous landmark (Golden Gate Bridge for example),  maybe the desert (with cacti in it?), or just a shot of the Milky Way with a space station flying through it?. I think you get the idea. 
- Get flyby informations for your location (see above)
- Get your awesome shot. 
- Email us your picture with description (location, date, times, maybe exposure information and techniques involved). Include your Twitter handle, Facebook or website information. Email address: ISS@visual-aerials.com

What Will Happen?

We would like to get as many great pictures up to the Station for the crew to see and enjoy. As awesome as it is to be in space, they might miss home and we can give them some beautiful (night) views from home of them traveling in orbit. 

We will also be collecting all of the images and be putting them up on a site for everyone to enjoy. That's why your description of the image is important and will tell your story of how you experienced that moment, took that image etc. And of course we want to link back to your social media outlets and website so people can also learn more about you. 
Questions: email us at iss@visual-aerials.com

Share your images on Social Media; #SpotTheStation

Please also share your images through your social media accounts. On Twitter you can use #SpotTheStation so they get also collected here: #SpotTheStation

The NASA Johnson Space Center Twitter account and the Facebook for the International Space Station might also re-share your images. 

How to Take a Picture of the ISS?

Since the International Space Station is only visible during/around dusk and dawn, your camera settings will have to adjusted to take the low light conditions into consideration. Below are some helpful links about how to photograph the ISS. 

Here are some information on night-time photography in general. 

Some Impressions from Astronaut Reid Wiseman

Below you will find some updates from Astronauts Reid Wiseman (@Astro_Reid on Twitter) or Alex Gerst (@Astro_Alex). 

T-2 Days (May 26, 2014)

Transport and raising of the Soyuz TMA-13M that will take Expedition 40/41 to the International Space Station.

Credits: ESA-S. Corvaja

T-8 Days (May 20, 2014)

8 days until Earth departure. This is a NASA photo from a few days ago. We are sitting in front of our spaceship, which is now being "encapsulated" inside the protective shroud which gets jettisoned a few minutes after liftoff. In a couple days we will pay her one final visit before the actual launch.

T-11 Days (May 17, 2014)

Baikonur is a lot like life on the ship. You instantly lose track of what day of the week it is. I think it is Saturday. At any rate, someone tweeted this photo yesterday of me in our actual Soyuz. I like it because it shows perfectly thatthere are times for joking, but when it is time to work you gotta get down to business. I was inputting my first commands into a spacecraft, verifying the panels worked and comm suite was in good shape. Felt like a simulator. Worked perfectly.

T-14 days (May 14, 2014)

Super cool photo from our departure this morning. Love this group!

T-22 days (May 6, 2014)

This was us reporting to the exam commission 9.5 hours ago. Space Station final exam now complete with great success. Soyuz exam tomorrow. Gonna be a tough one.



05/20/2014 9:19am

This is cool. I will hope to try this from Hawaii.

Patti Barrett
05/20/2014 11:10am

I'll see what I can do. I leave for California on the 29th but can see launch on TV. Beyond that I will try to get a photo. Never done it before.

05/21/2014 1:27am

You are welcome to use my pics from Berlin and Cologne, Germany. They are all CC BY SA 3.0 licensed. Please find them here https://www.flickr.com/photos/64016652@N02/sets/72157631038260560/

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