On Saturday, April 19th, I was able to take three photos of the International Space Station (ISS) and the SpaceX Dragon supply spacecraft (which had been launched a day earlier) as they passed over my backyard.
I’ve created a looping GIF of the three photos, above. These are six-second exposures taken about 10 seconds apart.
You can see how the Dragon spacecraft (R, lower) is quite dim to begin with, brightens, and then begins to fade over the course of the three photos. The brightness of the ISS (L, higher) remains almost constant throughout.
I was quite lucky because the Dragon spacecraft “flared” nicely just as I was taking these photos – becoming as bright as the ISS for a few short seconds. It must have caught the sunlight at just the right angle because it was much dimmer for the remainder of the pass and quickly disappeared from view while the ISS was still visible.
The next morning, the Dragon spacecraft docked successfully with the station it had been chasing just the night before. Amazing!
Update: Here’s a version with background music by Strauss on Instagram: http://instagram.com/p/nJpsUnlrm7/