The ISS and China’s space station photobombed a four-planet line-up for Italian astrophysicist Gianluca Masi in the early in the morning sky. Whenever our neighbouring planetary systems enter the same area of the sky as Earth, planetary groupings occur.
Masi was aware that the ISS and Tianhe, the core module of China’s nascent Tiangong space station, were both trying to cross the sky around the same time, within 15 minutes of each other. So he was able to catch the entire show with a Canon 5D mIV DSLR and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens.
Because it is so large and bright, 356 feet (109 metres) the ISS is one of the shiniest objects in the sky most of the time. It orbits our planet at a distance of about 260 miles (420 kilometres). According to NASA, this implies the lab circles the Earth every 90 minutes, passing through 16 sunrises and sunsets per day.
China’s orbiting laboratory is much tinier than the ISS but still noticeable to the naked eye; it circles the Earth at an average elevation of 211 to 280 miles. According to NASA, the optimal viewing time for the planet parade is about an hour before sunrise.
Mercury will join the march as soon as June 10 in locations with a plain, eastern horizon.