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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Tips on Tuesday: ISS Sightings

Have you taken time to look for the International Space Station (ISS) streaking across the sky? The ISS is now large enough to be seen with the naked eye as it orbits Earth. When the shuttle is docked to it, it's even brighter in the night sky.

Sean discovered the NASA site for sighting spacecraft from your city. When you open this page, on the top left is a "Select Your Country" menu. From there, select your state and what city you are closest to. You'll be able to get a listing of spacecraft sightings in your area.

Recently, we were able to watch the ISS across our sky. We didn't use telescopes, just our eyes. It looked like a large airplane (not blinking) going across the sky. And let me tell you that it hauls hiney as it goes. When they tell you 3 minutes on the website, they aren't kidding. It was moving much faster than an airplane and was truly gone in three minutes. We watched it from horizon to horizon and then it was gone.

It happened just after bedtime for the kids so Sean ran up and opened their curtains so they could watch it go. They were so excited and we can't wait to do it again. I'm thinking we might try with our telescope next time. I'm not sure we could keep it in focus since it's moving so fast, but I think it would be fun to try.

So I encourage you to take some time and plan to do your own Spacecraft Sighting. There's even information on throwing an informal Star Party to share the fun. I'm not sure we'll throw a Star Party any time soon, but I loved the crafts and activities in the planning guide. I'm going to incorporate them into our next viewing.

Happy Star Gazing!

*Photo courtesy of NASA

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