September 21, 2006

See and Hear the ISS!



International Space Station Expedition 14 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin docked with ISS Wednesday morning September 20th. Flying with them is American Anousheh Ansari, who is the first female “spaceflight participant” to visit the station. She is flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency.

As the Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft approached ISS the Expedition 14 crew flew about 34 miles below and reported seeing Atlantis above. At approximately the same time aboard ISS, Expedition 13 Flight Engineer Jeff Williams observed what he thought was the Soyuz. Flight controllers in Houston informed him that, in fact, what he was seeing was Atlantis which was about 120 miles away at the time. Jeff said he saw the vehicle, whatever it was, as it came into the sunlight and was surprised to see an object that far away.

Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin will replace Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov and NASA Science Officer Jeff Williams who have been aboard ISS since late March. European Space Agency Astronaut Thomas Reiter will remain on the station and join Expedition 14.

Observers in North America will be treated to another series of visible early morning orbital passes of the ISS as the Fall season begins. For those in the central and eastern parts of North America passes will occur between 5 and 7 am local time.

Visible passes will occur in the mornings before sunrise. “Radio” passes may be monitored at any time, day or night, when ISS is above the local horizon. Optical aids such as binoculars or telescopes are not necessary. The Space Station will appear as one of the brightest “stars” in the sky. On the best passes when the spacecraft climbs higher than 65 or 70 degrees above the horizon it will cross from horizon to horizon in about 6 minutes. Look carefully for green and red aircraft lights. If the object has no blinking lights and you don’t hear any engines, you’ve probably spotted the ISS!

Midwest observations centered on Louisville, Kentucky

Key to this table: Date/local time, Elevation above Horizon, Direction to Watch

Wednesday, 27 Sept 5:12 AM  87 East*

Wednesday, 27 Sept 6:50 AM 13 NNW

Friday, 6 October 7:03 AM 15 NNE

*There is disparity on the Heavens Above website regarding this pass. Under “visible passes” it shows as being about 12 degrees above the NE horizon at 05:18. When checked under “radio amateur satellites” the pass is reported to start at 05:12 and reach an elevation of 87 degrees above the eastern horizon. 

For tips on listening or watching for ISS passes send an email here

Check ISS pass information for your area here NASA or Heavens Above

Click on “amateur satellites”

See Anousheh Ansari’s blog here

Stargeezer with NASA and ARRL releases

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[…] Human Spaceflight: Atlantis Heads Home, ISS Visible Next Week  […]

September 18, 2006

CPCMan said:

Just to add a little to what Mark has added, the average magnitude, or brighness, of the ISS was around a 3.5. With the addition of the new solar arrays, the ISS will be approx a 1.5 magnitude. Thats signifigently brighter than before. Eventually when all construction is finished, the ISS will be as bright as Venus.

Happy observing

September 19, 2006

CPCMan said:

MSW, since you are such an avid amateur radio operator, will you be trying to contact Ansari?

September 22, 2006

StarGeezer said:

You bet. I think she is going to be fairly active. I heard her Thursday afternoon. Going to make a try for it Friday morning. Read the new post on the site.


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