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NASA photographer grabs rare shot of space station in front of moon

The International Space Station once again steps into the moonlight in an extraordinary photo. See if you can spot it.

Can you spot the ISS near the center? NASA/Bill Ingalls

Look. Up in the sky. It's not a bird. It's not a plane. It's not Superman. It's the International Space Station in front of the moon. Senior NASA photographer Bill Ingalls is the man behind the camera for the impressive image showing a tiny "Z"-shaped silhouette against a vast lunar backdrop.

It's not easy to get a photograph like this. You need good sky conditions and razor-sharp timing. If you've ever tried to see the ISS with the naked eye, you know you only have a brief window before it zips out of view, a speeding pinpoint of light against the darkness of space.

Ingalls took the image on Sunday from Woodford, Virginia. The ISS was traveling at about 5 miles per second, giving him a brief window to create the otherworldly photograph. It gets even better when you remember there are six people on board the station, which looks utterly dwarfed by the moon and its stark craters.

Ingalls made it all work, and the result is a beauty and a rarity. The image is in good company. Early in July, Australian astrophotographer Dylan O'Donnell unveiled an image of the space station seen against a full moon. Despite the photographic challenges, intrepid people will no doubt continue to try to catch these scarce pictures and we will continue to view them with awe and wonder.

If the one photo isn't enough for you, NASA also released an animated gif showing the transit in action: