Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Like a Diamond in the Sky

On the way home today I heard a story about the completion of the Space Station.  Now the size of an American football field, plus the end zones, it's easy to pinpoint in the sky as an elongated, shiny object as it crawls by.  Well... if you know when to look.  According to the expert, the best times to try are those near sunset and sunrise, when the Space Station passes closest to Earth.  But if you need to be VERY precise, let NASA help you out.

This NASA link allows you to practically pinpoint the Space Station's next appearance in your backyard.  The information is provided by the Johnson Space Center, Flight Design Division, Orbit Flight Dynamics Group. "Sites are chosen in order to provide a representation of the world's demographic distribution. To compute sighting data for sites not listed here, please use the NASA Skywatch applet which will allow you to enter your exact location."

Utilizing that applet, I  plugged in my zip code, where I found the choices of viewing the  "Next Pass", "Next Sighting", "Weekly sightings" or "All sightings".

You can see this twinkling mass of space real estate with the naked eye.  To get a better glimpse, try binoculars, which will help you follow better than a telescope. The expert ended his presentation with, "And when you find it,  wave at the 6 astronauts/cosmonauts on board.  They'll probably wave back."

Now according to NASA's calculations, in a couple of hours, I've got some waving to do.


mapstew said...

I should look up more often. In fact, we all should. :¬)


Ponita in Real Life said...

How cool that they post info for all over the world! Now if I could figure out how to read degrees out my window...

I love that I can see stars a lot in Winnipeg. Most areas, except downtown and the big malls, have low enough light that at least some stars are visible. When I lived on the farm, I loved sitting outside just looking up. And in the winter... the northern lights are amazing!!!