NASA shared a stunning picture depicting the tiny shadow of the ISS station against the giant surface of the Sun.

The composite image capturing the moment the International Space Station (ISS) flies between the Earth and the Sun, by photographer Rainee Colacurcio, was voted by NASA to be a beautiful Astronomy Photo of the Day. Although the ISS is closer to Earth, the orbital lab looks still very small in front of the massive surface of the Sun in the background.

The composite photo was taken by photographer Rainee Colacurcio from the ground. (Photo: NASA).

“That’s not the sunspot. It’s the International Space Station (ISS) flying through the sun,” explains Colacurcio. “The Sunspot has a dark shadow in the center and a semi-dark area with brighter colors and no solar cells. On the contrary, the ISS is a complex, multi-roofed apparatus, one of the the largest and most complex human ever created, “Colacurcio said.

According to Colacurcio, passing in front of the Sun is not too rare for the ISS station to fly around the Earth every 90 minutes. But very few people can set the right time and prepare the right equipment to create a great photo.

In fact, the image shared by NASA is a combination of two photos, one of the ISS station passing in front of the Sun and the other taken at the same time detailing the sun’s surface. The composite image also shows that the Sun lacks dark spots. These are dark patches that temporarily appear on the Sun’s surface and indicate areas with relatively lower temperatures around them due to the magnetic field lines impacting the convection. The number of black spots at each time varies greatly over the Sun’s 11-year cycle.

“Black spots are rare on the Sun since the beginning of the minimum phase, in which the Sun is very little active. For reasons that researchers do not fully understand, the number of black spots appears at the extreme stage. Previous and present urination is abnormally low, “explains Colacurcio.