View Full Version : Watching the space station go over

2001-Oct-24, 12:39 PM
The space station went over the Washington, DC, area last night. I've seen it a few times, but this was the best ever. There were a few clouds in the sky, and I didn't pick up the station until it was 30+ degrees above the horizon. It looked like a moderately dim star (by DC light pollution standards) but gradually brightened to probably a slightly negative magnitude as it went almost directly overhead.

It was just barely after sunset, and I could see the station until it disappeared behind some trees on the southeast horizon, having faded considerably from its peak brightness. That's the first time I've been able to follow the space station for that long - on other occasions it's gone into shadow shortly after passing overhead.

The place to go to find out if anything interesting is passing overhead is http://www.heavens-above.com, though actually I heard about this event on the radio, surprisingly enough.

The Bad Astronomer
2001-Oct-24, 02:20 PM
Are you at GSFC? When I worked there, we used to go out in the parking lot of Building 21 and watch satellites (including Iridium flares). Fun. I saw the ISS last night as well, and it was nice; it passed 4 degrees from the zenith. I was hoping for a reflection off a solar panel to cause a flare, but no such luck.

2001-Oct-24, 04:11 PM
Whenever the space station goes overhead, a bunch of my neighbors congregate, and ooh and ahh. But an even better trick is one my thirteen year old daughter and I did the night after such an over pass. Just after sundown, we were able to pick up the space station passing to the southeast. It never got as bright or as high, and in the dim light of sundown, we probably would never have found it except we knew it would pass very close to Mars, which is bright and easy to find. An hour and a half later, we went out and saw it disappear near the Big Dipper, to the northwest.

So, we got to see it on successive passes. Only then did my daughter seem to understand just how fast that thing is moving.

2001-Oct-24, 09:53 PM
I was at Goddard (as a contractor) for a long time. I'm at APL now, doing very similar stuff. I must confess I haven't seen an Iridium flare yet, though I would like to.

2001-Oct-24, 11:41 PM
Go here: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/osf/station/viewing/issvis.html to see if the ISS is appearing over your area. (-;

2001-Oct-25, 08:29 PM
Click here (http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/SSapplications/Post/SightingData/sighting_index.html) for the sighting oppertunities by city.

(In case that link doesn't work; that's http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/SSapplications/Post/SightingData/sighting_index.html )

> Michiel <

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: MHS on 2001-10-25 16:30 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: MHS on 2001-10-25 16:31 ]</font>

2001-Oct-26, 12:09 PM
I think Heavens Above (http://www.heavens-above.com) is still the best single site for figuring out what's passing overhead. It handles the ISS, HST, shuttle missions, Iridium flares - just about everything you might want to know about.

2001-Oct-26, 01:55 PM

That's the same link!

Or are you worried about being able to to the html properly? You can always edit it (here's a tip I found handy--you can edit out the previous remarks that said you editted it before. That way you don't look too anal, or too screwed up.)

If you leave a long link in place, it pushes out the side of the frame and it makes it tough to read the thread.

2001-Oct-27, 10:05 AM
Thanks GofW, but I read something about people with so-calles 'text-browsers', so I thought it would be handy to put the actual URL in too. But then the board made it a link automatically.

2001-Oct-27, 11:22 AM
It looks like BA has changed the font, so that the long link doesn't make as much an effect, but I think even text browsers can see the link, if you've put in a hyperlink.

2005-May-03, 05:43 AM
Interesting thread from 3 and a half years ago.

I wonder if anyone still bothers to watch?

AGN Fuel
2005-May-03, 06:15 AM
Interesting thread from 3 and a half years ago.

I wonder if anyone still bothers to watch?

Several years ago, I noticed that we would have the ISS go over at good altitude on Xmas Eve. I made sure my (3 &amp; 5 yr old) kids were outside at around the right time, so that I could point out 'Santa Claus' as he headed over the Pacific Ocean toward New Zealand.

A truly magical evening.

Nowadays, I regularly bring the kids out to watch bright satellites and hear them chatter excitedly about what it would be like to be on board and whether there is an astronaut looking back down at them. They are still magical evenings! :D

2005-May-03, 06:17 AM
Interesting thread from 3 and a half years ago.

I wonder if anyone still bothers to watch?

From time to time when I think of checking heavens-above. On two occasions I saw it by chance.

2005-May-03, 07:35 AM
I mainly find out about passes from a column in the Monday paper here. Unfortunately I usually forget to look. I have seen it a few times, and the hubble.

2005-May-03, 07:45 AM
I see it almost whenever I want.

Last time there was a flare of a panel and it brightened by about a magnatude.

2005-May-03, 02:45 PM
I only look when it passes almost overhead. I don't bother if it is passing less than 30 degrees off the horizon. In other words, when there is more than a minute of observation time.

I have tried to track it with a telescope, but that is next to impossible without tracking equipment. With 10x50 binocs you can at least see some of the differences in the structure, and the solar panels of course.