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Sci-Tech

Yes, this is a real view of the ISS transiting the moon

The International Space Station looks like it could touch the lunar surface.

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This composite image shows the ISS transiting the moon.

Szabolcs Nagy

Look up at the right time and you can spot the International Space Station with the naked eye. It looks like a tiny bright dot moving across the night sky. 

Or you can do what astrophotographer Szabolcs Nagy did, and use some nifty telescope and imaging gear to capture a stunning sequence of the ISS passing in front of the moon.

The ISS is an object of fascination for Nagy, who runs the Space Station Guys website to share his photography, track station news and help others spot the ISS. 

The lunar transit footage almost didn't happen, but the cloudy London sky cleared just in time on Feb 10. 

Nagy uses astronomical calculator CalSky to keep an eye on timing for ISS events like the lunar transit. 

"Calsky can tell me where I precisely need to position myself to be accurately on the centerline, where ISS appears right in the middle of the object," he tells me. He also uses the ISS Transit Prediction Android app to help track the station's path.

A close-up version of the transit video looks almost surreal. Nagy says this is one of his best ISS transit images ever.

Nagy's images and videos have attracted attention from science deniers who don't believe satellites, including the ISS, actually exist. They pop up in his Twitter comments with mentions of a flat Earth and computer-generated imagery accusations.

"My favorite is when they demand evidence for the existence of the International Space Station (or International Fake Station as they call it) and when I show them any of my work they simply reply 'fake,' 'CGI' or 'hologram," the astrophotographer says.

Nagy wishes skeptical people would simply look through a camera or telescope and verify the ISS' existence for themselves. He gives passersby that opportunity when he's out in public with his telescope. 

"Discovering the night sky is a wonderful thing and does change people's views about the universe," he says.

For all the nitty-gritty details on how Nagy captured the ISS, check out his post covering the lunar transit forecast and how he had to rig up his telescope platform to work properly for the big moment.