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Sci-Tech

Space station transits the sun in striking NASA image

Nine astronauts are hidden inside the silhouette of the space station as it moves across the glowing face of the sun.

A composite image of the ISS against the sun. NASA/Bill Ingalls

We all marveled over images of the International Space Station magically transiting the moon, suspended in a delicate shadow against the craters of our lunar companion. But the moon isn't the only heavenly body in our solar system that can make the 357-foot-long station look tiny.

On September 6, the ISS passed in front of the sun carrying nine astronauts. NASA released a composite image Tuesday combining five frames to show the station as it moves against the orange background of the star. It didn't take long for the ISS to shuffle across the face of our blazing-hot space buddy. It was moving at about 5 miles (8 kilometers) per second.

Senior NASA photographer Bill Ingalls captured the image from the viewpoint of Shenandoah National Park in Front Royal, Virginia.

Ingalls delivered a spectacular shot of the station in front of the moon in early August, so he has a lot of experience managing the tricky conditions under which the ISS can be photographed. The station is only visible for a brief window of time before it disappears from view.

Telescope-toting amateur photographers can try to capture their own transit shots by using NASA's Spot the Station site to determine when the ISS is going to be visible. Sun shots are particularly challenging, requiring a special solar filter for your camera. If that sounds like too much to deal with, then just sit back and enjoy all the work Ingalls already put in.