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Sun gets double-crossed

There are plenty of jaw-dropping pictures of today's partial solar eclipse — but this one is something special, even in the eclipse category. French astrophotographer Thierry Legault traveled to Oman to take some vacation, and take in the eclipse from a region where the chances of clear skies were close to 100 percent. The moon's disk covers up part of the sun at lower left ... but wait, is that a "Star Wars" tie fighter visible at upper left? Nope, it's the International Space Station, which Legault knew would be crossing over the sun's disk for less than a second while the eclipse was taking place. A smattering of sunspots can be seen as well.

"The image shows three planes in space: the sun at 150 million kilometers, the moon at about 400,000 kilometers and the ISS at 500 kilometers," Legault writes.

For photo buffs, here are the technical details: The telescope was a Takahashi FSQ-106ED refractor on an EM-10 mount. The camera was a Canon 5D Mark II, and the exposure was one-5,000th of a second at 100 ISO.

Check out Legault's space station transit imagery on Astrosurf.com and SpaceWeather.com. You'll find still more amateur photography of the eclipse on SpaceWeather.com. Here's another one of Legault's amazing pictures from last May, showing the space station as well as the space shuttle Atlantis crossing in front of the sun's disk. For much, much more from Legault, feast your eyes on his Astrophoto.fr webpage.


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