National

How to photograph the international space station

The International Space Station flies over the east coast of Australia.
The International Space Station flies over the east coast of Australia.  Photo: Jay Cronan

Stargazers on the south coast may get more than they bargain for this summer thanks to cameo appearances from the international space station.

The space station, home for six crew members who research physics, astronomy and the future of space travel, is visible with the naked eye if you know where to look.

Fairfax Media photographer Jay Cronan said the south coast was a perfect place to photograph the space station, away from the lights of Canberra.

"At the coast you've got low light pollution and you usually have clear skies at night and scenic views over the ocean," he said.

To locate the space station, Cronan uses a number of smart phone applications that track its orbit and speed.

"The applications give you all the information you need to find the station and know what time it can be seen from your location," Cronan said.

"After that, you just need to set up your camera accordingly with a wide angle lens to capture its movement.

"It's best to try and incorporate human elements into the photo, such as a person or even just an interesting horizon rather than a flat backdrop."

Cronan said he takes multiple shots of the station as it passes across the sky and then blends the shots together in post production to create a streak in the sky.

The space station has been occupied for more than 15 years and has been visited by astronauts from 17 different countries.

In a 24 hour period, the station orbits earth 15 times while travelling 7.6 kilometres every second at altitudes of up to 435 kilometres.

If you've taken a photo of the space station, or another summer scene, you can enter The Canberra Times summer photo competition.

To enter, send in a maximum of three photos with a summer theme to photocomp@canberratimes.com.au as attached JPEG files at least 150 kilobytes and not more than one megabyte in size. Include your name, address, phone number, photo title, a description of the photo and the date it was taken.

Visit canberratimes.com.au for full terms and conditions.