If you felt an extremely small shadow zip overhead just recently, there’s an even more extremely small chance it could have been this. NASA took this spectacular shot of the International Space Station (ISS) this week as it passed in front of the face of the Sun.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to update your glasses prescription; those aren’t five International Space Stations forming some kind of galactic conga line. The composite image is assembled from five separate exposures that reveal the ISS’s orbital path as it transits the Sun at approximately 8 km per second.
The shot was taken by Bill Ingalls, NASA’s chief photographer, who would have had to ramp up his shutter speed to capture the ISS in all its glory.
How come? Well, as pointed out by Mike Wall at Space.com, “Such transits don’t last very long, because the space station zooms around Earth at more than 17,000 mph (27,000 km/h) — the $100 billion complex completes one lap around our planet once every 90 minutes or so.”
Earlier in the year, noted astrophotographer Thierry Legault captured the ISS crossing the Sun during a partial solar eclipse. You can watch this freaky coincidence in motion below, and his website hosts all sorts of other amazing shots, including pictures of the ISS silhouette in even greater detail than what you can see here. Wow.