Mars, The Beehive and the ISS, May 22, 2008. This large open star cluster has been known since antiquity and it has several names. Located in the constellation of Cancer, its Messier designation is M44. When viewed through a telescope or binoculars some people think it looks like a swarm of bees, and so it's also known as The Beehive Cluster. It is near the ecliptic, so it is sometimes visited by planets and the Moon. The brightest star-like object near the centre of the photograph is actually the planet Mars. The two bright stars above and to the left of the cluster are sometimes called Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis the northern and southern donkeys.
On this particular night, at 11:06:25 p.m. EDT the International Space Station passed by just one degree from Mars, as seen from my location in Big Bay, Ontario. The bright streak to the lower right records 1.6 seconds of the station's movement. There were five crew members onboard the ISS at this time.
Here is a longer exposure of The Beehive, taken a year earlier, and here is another perspective of The Beehive, taken two years earlier, with Saturn and Mars in between the "donkeys."
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