On Friday, the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) "Edoardo Amaldi" blasted off from French Guiana. On Sunday, a very talented astrophotographer was looking in the right place at the right time to grab a photo of the unmanned spaceship as it made its way to the International Space Station (ISS).
This amazing picture was photographed by Ralph Vandebergh, who is no stranger to spotting objects in orbit. This particular shot was acquired after Vandebergh manually tracked, from the Netherlands, the ATV-3 through a camera mounted to his 10-inch reflector telescope. According to Vandebergh, he was able to image the vehicle as it zoomed overhead just before dawn on Sunday.
This is just the latest in a wonderful collection of orbital photos captured by Vandebergh. He's taken photographs of satellites, spent rockets, shuttles, the space station and even astronauts carrying out space walks! Be sure to visit his website to see the amazing space imagery he's captured from the ground.
As for the ATV-3, it is expected to dock with the ISS on Wednesday (March 28) to deliver 7 tons of fuel, food, experiments and equipment to the astronauts and cosmonauts currently living on the orbital outpost. This is the third European ATV to be sent to the space station, following in the footsteps of "Jules Verne" (ATV-1, 2008) and "Johannes Kepler" (ATV-2, 2011).
Image credit: Ralph Vandebergh, Telescopic Spaceflight Images. Used with permission.