Taking Pictures Of The Space Station With A Handheld Camera

It is easy to find out when the space station is passing overhead, and you may have run outside to see the blip of light moving at five miles per second. It turns out that some people make a hobby out of taking its picture, and if you have a pretty beefy telescope you can get some good shots. [Scott], on the other hand, wanted to take a handheld consumer-grade camera and try some pictures. His results show up in the video below.

If you look at the second video from [Thierry], you’ll see [Scott’s] videos are a far cry from state of the art. However, the [Thierry] photos essentially use a special telescope made to track the station very precisely. [Scott] is using a handheld, consumer-grade Nikon P1000.

Granted, the P1000 has a pretty heavy-duty zoom lens with a focal length of 3,000. So don’t expect to get even close to these pictures using grandma’s old Brownie. Still, it is impressive what he was able to do, particularly after applying a moving window to the station’s image to counteract what [Scott] calls “my old man hands.”

The [Thierry] images are amazing if you haven’t seen them. It is reportedly the only image of an astronaut taken from an amateur telescope. You can see some images of them at the start of [Scott’s] video. Of course, a handheld camera won’t be a likely contender for best picture compared to those big scopes with their impressive tripods.

Even with the Nikon, [Scott] did have to hack the camera a bit. Unless, of course, you happen to already have a range finder telescope mounted to your camera’s hot shoe.

If you want constant updates on the ISS position, build this globe. Of course, won’t be long, your pictures will have nothing but Starlink in them, anyway.

15 thoughts on “Taking Pictures Of The Space Station With A Handheld Camera

      1. Only from a subset of the Flat-Earthers group, the “Square-Earthers”, those who actually believe in the four corners of the world. :-) ….then there’s the “Mobius-Earthers” and the “Toroid-Earthers”…. Just think of the fantastic claims one would have to make to glue together paradigms like that. It makes the mind reel. :-) Ideas are fun to play with, even flat-earth ideas, as long as you leave them outside, or on the porch for consideration and entertainment, but only bringing inside the ones that actually make sense and should be believed.

    1. I got the P500 when it was released and was amazed, now they’re up to the P1000. If you think you’re alone and no-one can see you think again, those cameras can zoom in on your nose hairs from a mile away LOL! I did a series of moon shots hand held at full zoom before coffee and then drank some coffee. The pre coffee shots are perfect you can see craters and everything, after coffee the whole moon is a big blur! You can get the P500 and the newer ones for pretty cheap used and they are decent almost dslr cameras with huge lenses. Just be sure to keep a cleaning cloth handy and wipe down the zoom after taking full zoom shots, with all that lens sticking out and retracting it can pull lint into the camera body and forget using it in rain with full zoom or it will fog up. The P500 is also a decent macro camera with 18mm for the low end. I use it to take pics of circuit boards and check my solder job.

  1. Nah. This is clearly a fake. It’s blurry and black&white like the videos of bigfoot, ufos and extraterrestrial aliens. Obviously this guy is part of the spherical earth conspiracy. Besides, it’d be way too impressive to be able to capture shots like that with a camera like that, so that also makes it not possible.

    (In the future I might recommend using a shoulder-braced camera mount that makes pointing the camera as easy as pointing a rifle. I get awesome airshow videos with that.)

  2. I tried my own hand at astro-photography a few times, but a Canon S3-IS and a cheap tripod do not a telescope make. The pics I got were interesting to me, but were lacking in detail, resolution, color, and everything else that makes a good photo.

    With all that said, the pics/vids taken by Scott and especially by Thierry are all the more impressive to me.

  3. “a focal length of 3000” Three thousand WHAT? Feet? Inches? Focal lengths have units. How much of this “focal length” is digital zoom? That said, this story made me happy. Well done Scott!

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