The International Space Station is in the middle of multiple passes over the Mid Atlantic. Tonight (October 28, 2013) will be one of the best viewing chances for our region since it will pass almost directly overhead. The high clouds this afternoon should try to disperse in time and revel the sky.
This weekend, Scott Hoggard captured this incredible close up over Dundalk, MD, a suburb of Baltimore. See the image in the slide show which is the best I’ve seen from the ground. It appears a little blurry, but consider that ISS is traveling at 17,500 mph and is more than 200 miles above the ground. This was a rare picture.
- The best path for viewing from Maryland is expected this evening (October 28th) at 7:03 pm EDT. It will actually be passing over northern Virginia, between Richmond and Arlington. This is optimal for many reasons:
- The path will be almost directly overhead, peaking at 80° over Baltimore as it travels from west to southeast. This will be visible to all of Maryland and the Mid Atlantic, weather permitting.
- It will last 6 minutes
- About 1 hour after sunset at 6:10 pm, the ISS will still capture sunlight from its altitude.
- It should get brighter along the way. This will be due to the path traveling to the southeast. As it does so, it will reflect the sunlight behind it… appearing like a bright star moving across the sky, but slower than a shooting star.
What to look for:
- Get out 5-10 minutes early to let your eyes adjust to the darkness.
- Start looking in the direction where the sun set, West.
- Venus is the brightest object in the sky to the Southwest. The ISS may get that bright during the flyover.
- It may resemble a high flying plane, but the lights won’t flash or blink.
- You can see it with the naked eye.
- Tracking with a telescope might be tough since it will move quickly, but binoculars could allow you to follow it and get a better close up.
- Launched in 1988, additional modules delivered in 1999 and 2000.
- November 2nd, 2000 the first crew arrived.
- It was continuously under expansion until the completion of ISS was in 2011.
- It is expected to be operational until 2020.
- ISS is always ‘falling’. While it normally ranges between 240-260 miles above the ground, a rocket boost every few weeks is needed to lift it back up.
- It moves at 17,500 mph
- One complete trip around Earth takes 92 minutes
- How many people are onboard? Normally 3-6
- With the end of the Space Shuttle program, the Russian Soyuz is the primary transport vehicle.
- The Soyuz can bring 3 new members onboard, and 3 return home.
See the view of Earth from ISS. This amazing time lapse video collection is in the video on the left shows city lights, lightning, and auroras. More related videos and articles are listed at the bottom of this post.
Tracking the ISS has become a popular search tool online and mobile apps. Below are the best ways I have found among the many available.
*Kid Weather: Please take a moment to also look at my first mobile app that I made with my oldest son (his idea at age 6). We’ve been downloaded in 28 countries and have a big upgrade on the way. Available on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon
NASA- Spot the Station
Current Position of ISS (maps and what astronauts see)ISS Tracker
Star Walk- Best Astronomy App on iTunes
ISS Spotter (iTunes)
ISS Detector- Google Play/Android
@twisst – Twisst ISS alerts sends a tweet when ISS is visible at your location
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