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Photographer Trevor Mahlmann usually shoots gate-to-gate time lapses on his flights, but on a June 9 flight he decided to try something a bit more ambitious.

New photo shows International Space Station as never before


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 5:37 AM - We've seen plenty of long-exposure shots of the International Space Station as it passes overhead, but this is something new: The station as shot from an airliner, 40,000 feet above the Earth's surface.

Photography and space enthusiast Trevor Mahlmann usually shoots gate-to-gate time lapses when he travels, but on a June 9 flight from New York to Chicago, he decided to try something a bit more ambitious.

"Upon taking my seat on the right side of the plane, the future astronaut in me thought, 'Hey, what if the ISS is going to pass over me while I am flying?'" he wrote on his website. "So I bought the Southwest in-flight wifi, logged on to heavens-above.com, and sure enough there was going to be an ISS pass over the northeastern United States around 10 p.m. EDT."

After a quick stop at Google Maps to see if he'd be in its path, he took a few test shots with a GoPro camera, covering the cabin window with his hoodie to cut down ambient light. Then, when the time was right, he ran a series of long exposures for 10 minutes.

Then it was a matter of putting the exposures together in StarStax, tweaking them in Adobe Lightroom, et voila: An ISS long exposure at 40,000 feet, impressive enough to be retweeted from the station's own official account.

Added bonus: The stars in the night sky, remarkably clear above the station and wing.

Mahlmann studies aerospace engineering at Purdue University, where he also works as a photographer. 

That ISS shot isn't a fluke. Mahlmann's a real pro at sky photography, with plenty of examples of his work on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

For a more detailed explanation of how he got the ISS photo, check out his website, below.

SOURCE: Trevor Mahlmann

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