If any astronomical photo is gonna make you go all “spiritual”, this is the one. It was taken by Thierry Legault during the partial solar eclipse on Jan. 4, and shows not only the sun and moon, but a space vehicle. Here’s how Thierry describes it on his webpage:
Image of the solar transit of the International Space Station (ISS), taken from the area of Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman on January 4th 2011 at 9:09 UT, during the partial solar eclipse. Takahashi FSQ-106ED refractor on EM-10 mount, Canon 5D mark II. 1/5000s exposure at 100 iso.
Transit forecast calculated by www.calsky.com (many thanks to Arnold Barmettler for his help).Transit duration: 0.86s. ISS distance to observer: 510 km. Speed in orbit: 7.8km/s (28000 km/h or 17000 mph).
(Definitely click on image to enlarge):
Note that Thierry had less than one second to snap this photo before the ISS went out of range!
You can see other fantastic pictures of the ISS docking with the space shuttle Atlantis here, as well as a one-second video of that transit across the Sun’s face, showing how precise Legault had to be to get these shots. Do go to that link; you won’t regret it. There are other great photos on his web page, Astrophotography.
Legault is an engineer and astronomy buff who lives outside Paris. Here he is with his gear, poised for that shot:
h/t to Thierry for permission to put up this photo, and to Matthew Cobb for calling it to my attention.
UPDATE: Phil Plait talks more about the photo on Bad Astronomy.