Tonight the International Space Station (ISS) will be visible with the naked eye, and due to its brightness, should be easier to spot and show more detail than it often does. The Space Shuttle Endeavour, STS-118, un-docked from the ISS for an early arrival due to hurricane Dean, so the observation will be only the ISS, not the scheduled ISS and Space Shuttle together. When viewed with a good pair of field binoculars you should be able to see some detail or shape of the ISS with its solar panels extended out.
The data listed below is only good when viewed from our location (Auburn, AL) or within a few hundred miles of our location, but there are many programs and look-ups to find your local time data (see below).
The graphical 3-d image of the horizon to the right (click image for larger view) shows how to locate the ISS in your part of the sky (image credit: (RSIS)/NASA) by degrees in elevation and the approach and departure pattern for the given data for the viewing. Again, the pass details shown below were taken from a calculation for our location (32.6042°N, 85.4583°W) and date from heavens-above.com and the actual viewing data listed below can be seen directly from their site here. The forecast from NOAA for our area (here) for tonight also looks good with clear skies.
The sky chart shown below is like a star chart you use to use as a kid. the chart’s east and west are not backwards, when you hold it up to the sky, over your head, to the north, it aligns up properly for viewing. To print out the chart below just click on the link, then click on it again to bring it to a blank page and then print the chart.
|Tuesday, 21 August, 2007|
|Observer’s Location:||auburn, al usa (32.6042Â°N, 85.4583Â°W)|
|Local Time:||Central Daylight Time (GMT – 5:00)|
|Orbit:||336 x 347 km, 51.6Â° (Epoch 20 Aug)|
|Sun alt at time of
max pass altitude:
|Rises above horizon||20:49:33||-0°||314° (NW )||2,141|
|Reaches 10° altitude||20:51:34||10°||315° (NW )||1,300|
|Maximum altitude||20:54:11||70°||325° (NW )||368|
|Enters shadow||20:54:11||70°||325° (NW )||368|
Amateur radio operators often use a satellite acquisition software to determine when and where a satellite will be to make contact through one of these satellites using amateur radio equipment. One of the popular satellite location sites for ham radio operators is AMSAT, which will also give you tracking data by just entering your latitude and longitude. Other sites for satellite viewing are:
- Heavens Above
- Skywatch from NASA
- NASA Space Shuttle and Satellite Viewing
- NASA Tracking JAVA Realtime
- Logger32 by K4CY – amateur radio logging software
If you have a favorite site for viewing time data please leave a comment below. I am sure there are several more than just the ones listed above, those are just the ones I use. 73, KI4WLR