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Space NASA

Shuttle and Hubble Passing In Front of the Sun 161

GvG was one of several readers to point out this "incredible photo clearly showing the silhouette of Atlantis and the Hubble Space Telescope as they passed in front of the Sun was taken Wednesday, May 13, 2009, from west of Vero Beach, Florida. The two spaceships were at an altitude of 600 km and they zipped across the sun in only 0.8 seconds." The image is all over the Web now, for good reason.
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Shuttle and Hubble Passing In Front of the Sun

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  • by gibbled ( 215234 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @10:41PM (#27983769)

    It was todays astronomy picture of the day!

  • Reminds me... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Daemonax ( 1204296 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @10:44PM (#27983777)
    Reminds me of the scene in the new Star Trek movie with all the people escaping from the Enterprise, and you see the scene with a massive star behind them, and they look like tiny specks against it.
  • Fly (Score:3, Funny)

    by mrops ( 927562 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @10:52PM (#27983813)

    is that me or is that a housefly on an orange.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mkiwi ( 585287 )

      It's just you.

      It's actually a mosquito on a grapefruit.

  • Transit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @11:02PM (#27983869)
    Here's [] a much more impressive transit.
    • Re:Transit (Score:5, Funny)

      by barzok ( 26681 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @11:49PM (#27984115)

      That's no moon....

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I find you lack of original conversation disturbing!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by hey! ( 33014 )

        ... It's the Eye of Sauron.

    • by kasperd ( 592156 )
      Seen from the Earth the size of the Moon and the Sun appear roughly the same. In the clip you link to, the diameter of the Moon appears to be just one sixth of the Sun. Doesn't that mean it would have to have been taken about 2 million kilometers from the Moon? Do we actually have satellites in that high orbit? Or is the effect caused by something else?
      • Re:Transit (Score:4, Informative)

        by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Sunday May 17, 2009 @12:39PM (#27987133)
        Do we actually have satellites in that high orbit?

        Yes. The STEREO-B satellite is in a heliocentric orbit (i.e., centered on the Sun, not the Earth) outside the Earth's orbit, gradually getting farther behind it because the period of an orbit increases with distance from the Sun. That picture was taken early in the flight, when the geometry still permitted seeing the Moon and Sun in line; it won't happen any more.

        Its partner, STEREO-A, is in an orbit inside the Earth's, and gradually getting ahead for the same reason. As the two diverge, they can image the Sun simultaneously and take 3-D pictures of it.


  • small (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swell ( 195815 ) <> on Saturday May 16, 2009 @11:02PM (#27983875)

    My first thought was that the picture is a reminder of our insignificance relative to the greater universe (and even the quantum universe).

    But what daring goes into these missions! Tiny we may be but we have great ambition.

  • Shocking fact (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GregoryD ( 646395 ) on Sunday May 17, 2009 @12:05AM (#27984177)

    I find the most eye opening fact is that the sun is 93,000,000 miles behind the shuttle. It is an awesome display of the scale of the sun.

    • by Onyma ( 1018104 )
      Very much agreed. That is what is completely amazing to me... when you consciously put the view into perspective the scale becomes awe inspiring.

      I never cease to be humbled whenever I catch a glimpse of how insignificant we really are. In turn I am also equally inspired by the idea that one of the smaller things in the universe, namely 'us', is also capable of beginning to comprehend it.
      • by rbanffy ( 584143 )

        I love those photos of storms in Jupiter that you can measure in how many Earths you could fit in them.

        I think most Sun spots you can see from here are larger than the Earth. I remember seeing some that could well be bigger than Jupiter...

    • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Sunday May 17, 2009 @01:07AM (#27984437)
      Yes, who would have thought that the Sun, the star around which would rotate, would be SOOOOO much bigger than a space vehicle and a space telescope. Next thing you know we'll have pictures showing how tiny people and cars look seen from space compared to the hugeness of Earth.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I find the most eye opening fact is that the sun is 93,000,000 miles behind the shuttle. It is an awesome display of the scale of the sun.

      Actually we know all the distances so we can calculate how much bigger should the sun look than the shuttle in this picture.

      Distance from Sun =1.496 x 10^11 m
      distance form hubble=5.59*10^5
      size of the sun=4.37*10^9
      size of shuttle=5.6*10
      Simple math says that the sun should look 291 times bigger, but this assumes that the sun was right on top when the picture was taken and that the shuttle was in horizontal position.

  • by HeLLFiRe1151 ( 743468 ) on Sunday May 17, 2009 @12:16AM (#27984209)
    you could get a picture of passing gas.
  • Hoax (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Everyone knows the sun-landings were faked.

    • NASA can upgrade their equipment with a fuel scoop, which allows raw fuel to be skimmed from the surface of stars - a dangerous and difficult activity - and collecting free-floating cargo canisters and escape capsules liberated after the destruction of other ships.

  • I wondered (Score:4, Funny)

    by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Sunday May 17, 2009 @01:24AM (#27984493) Homepage Journal

    That explains it. I wondered what that fleeting shadow was.

  • by ignavus ( 213578 ) on Sunday May 17, 2009 @02:22AM (#27984751)

    I could see more clearly what was going on if they just cleaned off those two little black specks in the picture.

  • It's amazing... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by viyh ( 620825 ) on Sunday May 17, 2009 @02:41AM (#27984843) Homepage beautiful the simplest things can be.
  • Fail. (Score:5, Funny)

    by cheesecake23 ( 1110663 ) on Sunday May 17, 2009 @05:33AM (#27985493)
    Every half-competent photographer knows you should use a flash when taking a picture of a backlit subject.
    • He probably couldn't get the supernova to explode on time to provide decent fill-in light. And then there is the matter that the Canon 5D doesn't have exposure setting for one-trillionth of a second.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.