Friday 10 April 2015

Week 44: ISS and other satellites

English: The International Space Station is fe...

Among many of the night time objects visible from earth is one of the brightest satellites ... no not the Moon! - the International Space Station, otherwise known as the ISS.

Every now and then it's overhead pass can be seen as one of the brightest and fastest moving satellites in the night sky, even from the light polluted suburbs.  Through a telescope or good pair of binoculars you could even make out it's outline.

Tonight was a particularly high and bright pass, right overhead and luckily a clear sky so it visible even with the streetlights - passing quickly overhead from West to East.

If you want to know when the ISS is likely to be visible where you are - check out the NASA Spot The Station website or if you're in the UK, follow @VirtualAstro who tweets regularly about ISS passes, when and were to spot them and other astronomical highlights to look out for.

If you're lucky enough to live in an area with dark skies - look up on any clear, moonless night and you'll see a number of satellites passing overhead.  They're fast moving pin-pricks of light and can move east to west or north to south.  Different from planes (fly much lower) or meteors (seen as a short, fast streak).  Brightest overhead, dimming as they head towards the horizon - depending on the time of year and position of the sun.

ISS photographed by STS-134 crew member on the space shuttle Endeavour 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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