An April joke from the celestial mechanics

Traffic in Taurus
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On the 1st of April, 2020, I began to prepare my equipments in the afternoon to capture the encounter of Pleiades and Venus. Observing the strict rules placed on people's personal movement to limit the spread of coronavirus epidemic in Hungary, I was looking for a place to capture the conjunction only from my own backyard.

It was important to find a good panorama of the western horizon as I wanted to capture a cosmic "traffic jam" at 21:02 local time. The bright stars of Pleiades are already fantastic, and if you add the Venus with a brightness of -4.6 magnitude, the field of view will already be full, so we would just think that it is full because from Tápióbicske the International Space Station (ISS) made its way toward a date between the Pleiades and the planet, which called the goddess of love.

​​​​​Venus is staying near the Pleiades for several days, but the ISS was only 10 seconds into the field of view due to its fast orbit around the Earth, so it's no wonder it appears as a single trail in the image. Traffic jam? Yes. Did it become an accident? Of course not. It was just an April joke of the celestial mechanics. From Earth they were all on each other's, but in reality they were very far apart. At that time, the ISS was 422 km (about 910 km from the site), Venus was 97 million km, and the Pleiades were about 400 light-years away.

Of course, cirrostratus, the chief enemy of astrophotographers, entered to the big meeting, but fortunately it made only a veiled appearance to the sights. I used an average of 10 x 30-second images, taking care not to damage the ISS trace during the process.​​​​​​​

​​​​This photo was taken with the support of the Nation's Young Talent Scholarship, announced by Ministry of Human Resources, the Human Resources Support Manager and the National Talent Program.

Name:

International Space Station

Diameter:

109 m

Type:

Satellite

Altitude:

422 km

Distance:

~ 910 km

Brightness:

-2.7m

Orb. period:

1 h 33 m

Altitude:

24o

Date:

01/04/2020 19:01-19:06 UT

Total exposure time:

5 minutes

Location:

Tápióbicske, Pest, Hungary

Camera:

Canon EOS 1300D (modified)

Telescope:

Sky-Watcher Esprit 80/400 mm apochromatic refractor

Mount:

Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro GoTo

Guiding:

Lacerta MGEN-II

Corrector:

Sky-Watcher Field Flattener

Focal ratio, length:

f/5, 400 mm

ISO:

1600

Light:

10 x 30 s

Dark:

10

Flat:

10

Bias:

10

Processing:

Astro Pixel Processor, PixInsight, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop

Location

Annotation


traffic in taurus

Main objects: Messier 45, Venus, International space station
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Details about ISS

The data was valid as of 1 April, 2020 19:02 UT.

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On April 3, 2020, experts invited by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) selected this image as APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day). This is my first image to receive this honorable recognition. There is a huge competition these days, as editors can receive hundreds of images a day, into which even Hubble Space Telescope footage can compete. Thus, in the 25-year history of APOD, I am the 17th Hungarian whose work has been shared with the world. The APOD Podcast also made an explanatory video in English about my picture.