I received an automated e-mail from a NASA Subscription Service, informing me that the International Space Station (ISS) was due to make an appearance at my location in Brisbane.
"Time: Fri Nov 18 6:47 PM, Visible: 5 min, Max Height: 71°, Appears: 30° above SSW, Disappears: 10° above NE."
After plotting the celestial path of the ISS in my planetarium program, The Sky X Pro, I realised that at 6:48:22 PM the ISS would be passing very close to a Magnitude: 4.11 star, (Object Name: HIP 113638) in the Constellation of Grus, at an altitude of +64° 47' 22".
With sunset at 6:19 PM it wouldn’t give me much time to set up the telescope, align the mount, find a bright star and focus the camera before the ISS appeared. As luck would have it, the bright star Fomalhaut was almost overhead so I was able to align the mount at the Zenith using a spirit level and then slew to Fomalhaut to sync the mount on the mag 1.17 star. I then used my Bahtinov Mask to manually focus the Canon 5D Mk III on Fomalhaut before slewing to HIP 113638, just as the ISS appeared in the SSW.
I watched the scene through the finder scope and when the ISS approached the cross hairs, I squeezed the remote release and fired the shutter at the maximum drive rate of 6 frames per second. I was relieved to find, that when I played the images back on the rear LCD of the camera, I had 6 frames with the ISS traversing diagonally from top right to bottom left.
Of these 6 frames, 3 were good, with one of these standing out as being the sharpest. And I almost didn’t set up due to the bright twilight! A lucky shot indeed!