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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Space snapper catches unusual views
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

There is nothing unusual about a satellite moving in front of the Moon as viewed from Earth - but you do not see it captured on film very often.

ISS transits the Sun, Locker
ISS structures are visible as it passes in front of the Sun
That is what makes John Locker's image of the International Space Station (ISS) all the more interesting.

The satellite communications specialist and amateur astronomer caught the ISS making a lunar transit on 8 June from his home town in northern England.

It gives another perspective on the orbiting outpost which many of us will have seen as a fast-moving "star" just after sunset.

Golf hazard

It was quite a feat for John to get the picture. He knew the ISS would take less than a second to pass across the Moon, visible only along a narrow ground corridor.

Nonetheless, he got it at 1841 - and then started thinking when he would see the ISS again.

Just over a week later, he realised the opportunity would soon arise to photograph the space station moving across the Sun's disk, if the unpredictable British weather cooperated.

According to his calculations, he would have to move 14 kilometres north of his home to make the orbiting platform line up with the star.

Looking on the map, he identified the exact spot - right in the middle of West Lancashire golf course.

All clear

Fortunately, the secretary of the club was understanding, but felt that trekking across the greens and fairways with a sophisticated telescope would be off-putting to its regular clientele, literally.

John Locker, Locker
John Locker: Quite a feat
The car park proved to be a suitable compromise and at the predicted time, 1415, John Locker was all set up having checked the coordinates using a Global Positioning System receiver.

"The sky was clear. The only danger being an incoming golf ball," he said.

An then it appeared. Travelling in its low-Earth orbit at a distance of about 600 km from West Lancashire Golf Club, the ISS transited the Sun.

The image John Locker obtained clearly shows the shape of the station and its main components.

"Hole in one," he said.

Catch a flying 'star'
12 Oct 02  |  Science/Nature


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