Posted by: kshayes513 | June 7, 2010

Shuttle and Space Station crossing the sun

A little off topic, but this is such an amazing image, I have to put it up here:

Space shuttle Atlantis approaches the International Space Station as both transit the Sun on May 16. Photo: Thierry Legault

This is only a small section of the photograph; see the complete image below.

The full story is on, where photographer Thierry Legault explained some of the challenges of capturing the image:

“It took just 1/2 a second for Atlantis and the space station to zip across the face of the sun. The solar crossing, called a transit, was only visible from a 3-mile (5-km) wide corridor beneath the flight path of both spaceships, Legault said.”

Here’s the full image; the two spacecraft are those tiny dots in the upper right!

Photo: Thierry Legault

 And just for fun, a couple of worldbuilding prompts:

The beings in your world are capable of perceiving this with the naked eye. Why would they have evolved such extraordinary vision, and what else do they use it for?

The vessels in the image are not docking, they are pursuer and pursued, and they are as close to the sun as the telescopic lens makes them appear. What’s going on?

The vessels are actually living creatures and their close encounter with each other and the sun is a mating dance. What kind of creatures are they? Why do they need the sun to mate? How does their mating affect the inhabitants of the world orbiting this sun?

If you get a great story out of these ideas, let us know!



  1. I just started reading your blog, but I’ve had this picture as my desktop for a couple weeks now. I agree, it is absolutely inspiring!

    BTW, I also have a degree it in Medieval Studies…though mine comes from Mount Holyoke! The closest I got to a Jane Yolen-taught class was when our SFF club hosted some writing workshops and she attended (along with Judith Tarr, Esther Friesner and Susan Schwartz). Good times!

  2. Welcome, Stace. I meant to put this up 2 weeks ago, then got busy and forgot I hadn’t posted it.
    When were you at Mt Holyoke? Jane was just starting to build her rep when I was at Smith, and we certainly didn’t have anything like a SFF club in those days, or I’d have found it. Should have started one myself, darn! But I had enough trouble with people thinking I was weird because I liked Tolkien. Heh, heh. The rest of the world has finally caught up with us geeks!

  3. I graduated in 1991; I’m guessing you were there before then, because I’m pretty sure that Smith had an active club when I was a student. We were more involved with the UMass club, though.

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