The International Space Station crosses the Moon. Image credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls) Click for larger, zoomable image.

At first glance, this looks like just your average picture of the Moon, but look a little closer. Specifically, you’ll want to look just a little to the right of the central point in the image. There, you will see what appears to be a tiny black speck. In truth, that tiny spot is home to the only humans who are currently living in space.

Earlier this week, NASA pointed its cameras at the Moon, and it captured this stunning image of the International Space Station (ISS) transiting the Lunar surface.

If you don’t know, a “transit” occurs when one celestial body appears to move across the face of another celestial body.  Here, the ISS seems to be drifting just above the Moon; however, the Moon orbits Earth from a distance of roughly 250,000 miles (404,000 km). The ISS, on the other hand, is just a short 250 miles (400 km) away. So in reality, the two bodies are separated by hundreds of thousands of miles. They just look as though they are close together because of their relative positioning.

The ISS is currently carrying a crew of six. Onboard are NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren; Russian Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko, and Oleg Kononenko; and Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui. The space station carries its passengers around the Earth traveling at speeds reaching nearly five miles per second (8 km/sec).

The speeds mean that capturing an image like this is a little difficult, but it’s not too bad—If you just have the right equipment and know where (and when) to look. You can subscribe to text messages from NASA, and they will send you a reminder of when you can look up to see the ISS as it is passing you overhead. On most nights, it’s not too hard to spot, as the ISS will outshine Venus and become the third brightest object in our night sky (after the Moon and Sun…obviously).

 


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