Ramble On

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

International Space Station Tracking

(Note: I wrote this post a few days before it went up on the blog.  Between writing it and publication, the Russian government has announced that they are planning to cease cooperation on the International Space Station soon due to sanctions by the US and international community over the situation in Ukraine.  I did not write the post in anticipation of it becoming such a hot geopolitical topic - I'd rather it remain a symbol of international cooperation.  We'll have to wait and see what the future holds.)

I recently put up a Facebook post about the International Space Station.  Out at Hawksbill Cabin, we are blessed with a dark sky - and I noticed sometimes a bright object flying over.  After further research, I figured out that it was indeed the space station.
NASA Image of the Amtrak Corridor from the International Space Station.  DC and suburbs are the third bright blob
from the left, and Shenandoah National Park is just above it - an unlit, shadowy ridge.
After additional research, I learned that NASA has a tracker software that will send an email alert of scheduled flyovers, and I quickly subscribed for the location Shenandoah National Park.  On April 23 of this year, I had an alert of a flyover, and even though we were in Alexandria, I went out at the designated time to watch. I snapped the photo below - worried that with phone cameras being what they are, it might not turn out - as it passed over us and just before it disappeared behind our roof (it's the bright spot in the center of the photo).
Space Station flying over Alexandria - bright spot
at the center as it approaches our roof.

I understand that the station is the third brightest object in the night sky - ranked behind the moon and Venus, I guess - but it's bright enough so that you can even see it from many cities.  I was certainly visible with the clear skies that night in Alexandria.

Here are a couple of International Space Station links for the enthusiasts...the first is where you can sign up for alerts of flyovers, and the second is where you can watch streaming video of the earth below from the monitoring cameras installed on board:


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