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See the sun, the moon and the ISS

Dani Caxete

The International Space Station and the shuttle Endeavour pass over the sun's disk in a photograph taken by Spain's Dani Caxete through a telescope with a filter.

The space shuttle Endeavour's last spaceflight is finished, but the memories — and the images — keep rolling in. Spanish photographer Dani Caxete captured this amazing picture of Endeavour hooked up to the International Space Station as the linked spaceships sped across the sun's disk, as seen from a spot in Spain's Madrid-Guadalajara corridor.


Caxete had to be in just the right place at just the right time to catch the picture during a half-second opportunity. On his Paranoias Nocturnas blog, he notes that Pope Benedict XVI was in contact with the space crew on the same day. "Would it be the same hour? How curious...," Caxete wrote.

You can see the space station as a buggy-looking speck near the center of the sun's disk. Of course, the station was nowhere near the sun: It was passing about 220 miles (350 kilometers) overhead, while the sun is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) farther away. Can you make out Endeavour? This labeled close-up shows you the shuttle's location:

Dani Caxete

A close-up of the sun's disk shows the International Space Station, with the position of the docked space shuttle Endeavour indicated by the label.

Caxete's blog and his Flickr page offer a wealth of space images, including this multiple-exposure photo of the space station zooming past the moon's disk:

Dani Caxete

A multiple-exposure picture shows the International Space Station passing over the moon's disk.

Caxete says the picture of the station and Endeavour was taken through a 5-inch Celestron C5 spotting scope, which goes for around $400, while the moon picture was made using a telescope that he says cost about $75 (50 euros). Caxete's experience demonstrates that you don't have to spend a fortune to get some great sky photos.

And here's a free bonus: a view of Endeavour by its lonesome during its final minutes of flight, as captured on video by Noe Castillo from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The space shuttle lit up the sky on its way to its final landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center early Wednesday. The bright streak is the ionization trail left behind as Endeavour plunged through the atmosphere at an altitude of 40 miles. For more from Castillo, check out his Facebook page and his YouTube video channel.

Noe Castillo's video shows Endeavour lighting up the sky during atmospheric re-entry.

More sky photos:


Two big tips o' the Log to Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait and Discovery News' Ian O'Neill.

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