ISS Passes Sun in Rare NASA Photo, Which We Like Very Much

Wednesday July 31, 2019 Written by Kate

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NASA has released an Astronomy Picture of the Day every day since June 20, 1995, when they shared an adorably low-resolution image of the Pleiades star cluster. Our ability to take pictures of the cosmos has improved a lot since then, as you’ll glean from this pretty epic snap of the International Space Station passing the sun. 

In its caption, NASA describes the ISS as “one of the largest and most sophisticated machines ever created by humanity,” though the famed space laboratory looks positively tiny compared to the big, powerful ball of fire right behind it. 

It’s not unusual to have an image of ISS passing the sun, as the lab orbits Earth every 90 minutes. But it is rare to capture the moment without any sunspots. 

“Getting one's timing and equipment just right for a great image is rare,” NASA says. “Sunspots have been rare on the sun since the dawn of the current Solar Minimum, a period of low solar activity. For reasons not yet fully understood, the number of sunspots occurring during both the previous and current solar minima have been unusually low.”

Anyway, it’s a neat reminder of our own insignificance when contrasted with the unknowable greatness of outer space. Feel that? That’s your existential dread rearing its head again. Happy Thursday!