Planes in front of the Sun and Moon

A gallery of images of planes passing in front of the solar or lunar disc.

Snow Moon and Ryanair 737-800 by Mark Pelleymounter, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK. Equipment: Canon 7D, Tamron 150-600mm.

Don’t you just hate it when you’re taking a beautiful photo of the Sun or the Moon and a plane passes in front of it at the moment you capture the image?

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OK, so maybe an aeroplane transit of the Moon or Sun isn’t such an inconvenience for an astrophotographer.

They do make for amazing aviation images after all, and many photographers plan carefully to capture photos of planes in front of the lunar or solar disc, even managing to discern the specific airline and flight number of the transiting aircraft.

Airliner Crossing the Nearly Full Moon by Ray Bonner, London, UK. Equipment: Canon EOS 400D, Vivitar 500mm lens, x2 teleconverter
Airliner Crossing the Nearly Full Moon by Ray Bonner, London, UK. Equipment: Canon EOS 400D, Vivitar 500mm lens, x2 teleconverter

Whereas a transit of Mercury or a transit of Venus appears as a small black dot moving against the enormous, bright disc of the Sun, shots of aeroplanes against the Sun and Moon appear visually more spectacular (although certainly the sight of another planet passing in front of our host star is more mind-blowing).

There could be on average about 10,000 planes in the sky at any given moment, but that number might even be as high as 20,000.

So it’s no surprise that there are so many breathtaking images captured of planes passing in front of the Sun and Moon.

Holiday in the Sun by Alexandra Hart, Cheshire, UK. Equipment: Solarscope DSF-100, DMK41
Holiday in the Sun by Alexandra Hart, Cheshire, UK. Equipment: Solarscope DSF-100, DMK41

A website like Flightradar24 can provide vital info about when and where a specific plane is going to pass overhead from any given location, and using this info astrophotographers are able to plan their transit shot. A bit of luck is often involved too!

When observing or photographing the Sun, safety is paramount, as doing either of these without specially made, certified equipment can cause serious damage to your eyesight or your equipment.

For more info on solar safety, read our guides on how to observe the Sun and how to photograph the Sun.

Snow Moon and Ryanair 737-800 by Mark Pelleymounter, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK. Equipment: Canon 7D, Tamron 150-600mm.
Snow Moon and Ryanair 737-800 by Mark Pelleymounter, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK. Equipment: Canon 7D, Tamron 150-600mm.

If you’re more interested in lunar photography, read our guide on how to photograph the Moon.

You might even want to go the next step and photograph the International Space Station.

Below is a selection of images of aeroplanes passing in front of the Sun and Moon (and one involving a seagull – can you spot it?) captured by astrophotographers and BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers.

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If you’ve managed to capture a shot like this, we’d love to see it! Send us your images or share them with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Pictures of planes passing in front of the Moon

Airplane/Moon by Martin, Southampton, UK. Equipment: Panasonic TZ3.
Airplane/Moon by Martin, Southampton, UK. Equipment: Panasonic TZ3.
Plane Crossing the Moon by Gary Palmer, Sutton, Surrey, UK. Equipment: Explore Scientific ED127, Canon 60d
Plane Crossing the Moon by Gary Palmer, Sutton, Surrey, UK. Equipment: Explore Scientific ED127, Canon 60d
V for Victory by Brian.M.Johnson, Hove, UK. Equipment: 50D Canon, 200mm Lens
V for Victory by Brian.M.Johnson, Hove, UK. Equipment: 50D Canon, 200mm Lens
Plane over Moon by Jody Walmsley, Radcliffe, Manchester, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 250, EQ6, Canon 500D
Plane over Moon by Jody Walmsley, Radcliffe, Manchester, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 250, EQ6, Canon 500D
Fly Me to the Moon by Tom Chitson, Woking, Surrey, UK. Equipment: Sky Watcher Evostar 80ED, Nikon D3000, EQ3-2 Mount
Fly Me to the Moon by Tom Chitson, Woking, Surrey, UK. Equipment: Sky Watcher Evostar 80ED, Nikon D3000, EQ3-2 Mount
Fly Me to the moon! by Darren Briscoe, Wakefield, W. Yorkshire, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Skyliner 8
Fly Me to the moon! by Darren Briscoe, Wakefield, W. Yorkshire, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Skyliner 8″ Dobsonian, 25mm eyepiece, Kodak LS743.
Airplane Across the Moon by Christopher Rodgers, Doncaster, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 150PL, EQ3 Mount, Android smartphone.
Airplane Across the Moon by Christopher Rodgers, Doncaster, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 150PL, EQ3 Mount, Android smartphone.
Airplane Across the Moon by Christopher Rodgers, Doncaster, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 150PL, EQ3 Mount, Android smartphone.
Airplane Across the Moon by Christopher Rodgers, Doncaster, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 150PL, EQ3 Mount, Android smartphone.
Fly me to the Moon! by Paul Gavey, UK. Equipment: Canon 5DMkII,d Canon lens 200-400.
Fly me to the Moon! by Paul Gavey, UK. Equipment: Canon 5DMkII,d Canon lens 200-400.
Fly me to the Moon.... by Tim Amy, Puente San Miguel. Equipment: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX300
Fly me to the Moon…. by Tim Amy, Puente San Miguel. Equipment: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX300
Seagull in front of Moon by Adam Cotterell, UK. Equipment: DSLR.
Seagull in front of Moon by Adam Cotterell, UK. Equipment: DSLR.
Fly me to the Supermoon! by Richard Matthews, Stone, Staffordshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron Travelscope 70, Celestron Ultima SV series 2X Barlow, Revelation 20mm Plossl, Samsung Galaxy J5
Fly me to the Supermoon! by Richard Matthews, Stone, Staffordshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron Travelscope 70, Celestron Ultima SV series 2X Barlow, Revelation 20mm Plossl, Samsung Galaxy J5
Flying to the Moon by Honor Wheeler, Wilmington, Kent. Equipment: Canon EOS 1100D, Canon EF-S 55-250mm lens.
Flying to the Moon by Honor Wheeler, Wilmington, Kent. Equipment: Canon EOS 1100D, Canon EF-S 55-250mm lens.
Jet Trails Over the Moon by Ron Peet, UK. Equipment: Canon D70.
Jet Trails Over the Moon by Ron Peet, UK. Equipment: Canon D70.
The Moon and Airplane by Dmitry Ardashev, Zaprudnya, Russia. Equipment: Sky-Watcher BK P2001 Newtonian reflector, HEQ5PRO equatorial mount, ZWO ASI178MC CCD Camera.
The Moon and Airplane by Dmitry Ardashev, Zaprudnya, Russia. Equipment: Sky-Watcher BK P2001 Newtonian reflector, HEQ5PRO equatorial mount, ZWO ASI178MC CCD Camera.
Moon Shot by Darrel Charles Bromham, Bedford, UK. Equipment: Sky Watcher 150P EQ3/2, Pentax K7, 2x Barlow
Moon Shot by Darrel Charles Bromham, Bedford, UK. Equipment: Sky Watcher 150P EQ3/2, Pentax K7, 2x Barlow

Pictures of planes passing in front of the Sun

Perfect timing ... ! by Steve Ward, Red Lodge, Suffolk, UK. Equipment: Canon 1000D, Scopium wedge, Continuum, IR/UV Block, all atop the 14' pier.
Perfect timing … ! by Steve Ward, Red Lodge, Suffolk, UK. Equipment: Canon 1000D, Scopium wedge, Continuum, IR/UV Block, all atop the 14′ pier.
Fly pass the Sun by Fred Connell, Huntley, Gloucester, UK. Equipment: Nikon D70, Skywatcher Skymax 127.
Fly pass the Sun by Fred Connell, Huntley, Gloucester, UK. Equipment: Nikon D70, Skywatcher Skymax 127.
Sun & Plane by Stuart Hilliker, West Sussex, UK. Equipment: Coronado PST, ZWO ASI 120MM
Sun & Plane by Stuart Hilliker, West Sussex, UK. Equipment: Coronado PST, ZWO ASI 120MM
Solar Disc plus Plane by Mike Garbett, Walsall, UK. Equipment: Lunt 60, Baader Ceramic Wedge, DMK41
Solar Disc plus Plane by Mike Garbett, Walsall, UK. Equipment: Lunt 60, Baader Ceramic Wedge, DMK41
Plane Transit by Mark Hooper, Teignmouth, UK. Equipment: CG5GT Mount, ED80 Scope, Daystar Quark Pointgrey Blackfly GigE Camera
Plane Transit by Mark Hooper, Teignmouth, UK. Equipment: CG5GT Mount, ED80 Scope, Daystar Quark Pointgrey Blackfly GigE Camera
Region 2645 and a Plane by Anthony Day, Ash, Surrey, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher ED80, Lunt 2
Region 2645 and a Plane by Anthony Day, Ash, Surrey, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher ED80, Lunt 2″ wedge, Altair GPCAM mono
Photobombed by a plane: Sol by David Pickles, Rushden, UK. Equipment: Altair GPCAM 290M, 0.5x focal reducer, Lunt LS50Tha 600B PT solar scope.
Photobombed by a plane: Sol by David Pickles, Rushden, UK. Equipment: Altair GPCAM 290M, 0.5x focal reducer, Lunt LS50Tha 600B PT solar scope.