Did you know you could spot the International Space Station from an airplane? Neither did I! But photographer and aspiring astronaut Trevor Mahlmann had an inkling on a Southwest flight last week. So, he got out his gear and managed to shoot this gorgeous, long-exposure photo of the space station zooming by like a shooting star.
As Mahlmann explains in a blog post, shortly after taking a seat on a flight from New York to Chicago, it occurred to him that the ISS might pass overhead during the trip. He bought in-flight wifi, logged onto heavens-above.com, and discovered that sure enough, the station was slated to cross the Eastern US at 10 pm, a mere thirty minutes later.
After using Google Maps and heavens-above to estimate his own position at the time of the pass, he pulled out his GoPro HERO4 Black and took a few test shots. At 10 pm on the nose, using his hoodie to block out the cabin light, Mahlmann recorded ten minutes of 30 second exposures. Then, while still in the air, he combined 12 of these exposures using StarStax and polished the photo off in Adobe LightRoom.
NASA liked the shot so much, they decided to tweet about it from the official ISS twitter account. Now if that’s not an aspiring astronaut’s dream come true, I don’t know what is.