An Amazing Photo of China's Space Station Crossing the Sun

While it's the International Space Station that tends to take all the glory, there is in fact another: China's Tiangong-1, which went into low-Earth orbit in 2011. In this amazing pictures, you can see it silhouetted against the Sun.


Captured by astrophotographer Thierry Legault on June 16 in southern France, the image shows the H-shaped object between the sunspots. In fact, Shenzou-10 spacecraft is docked to Tiangong-1 right now, and each one makes up half of the H. Don't be fooled by perspective: the two spacecraft are about 20 meters across, whereas they sun spots which look roughly the same size are as large as Earth. Just 500,000 times farther away.

The entire transit across the sun took less than half a second—so Legault did an amazing job snapping the image. [Thierry Legault via Bad Astronomy]


Woah. Hold the phone. China has a space station?

Obviously space travel is more routine than I previously thought. There's a whole second space station I didn't even know about.