Friday, August 24, 2007

Watching the ISS Pass Overhead

Though this late evening image seems not to have captured the International Space Station passing overhead, it was a fairly bright pass just the same. I went into the back yard just before 9 p.m. when the sky still had a faint glow from sunset to it and waited for the 9:01 p.m. pass to begin. The ISS pass began in the WNW and ended about six minutes later in the SSE. When the station passed across the southern sky, it moved just below the moon and Jupiter.

The moon, by the way, was brilliant even though just past first quarter. I set the camera to telephoto (3x) and shot this picture on a tripod. You can see a little jaggedness to the left edge of the moon where the terminator slices through the lunar rugged terrain.

Besides the moon, Jupiter and the ISS, the backyard air was full of bats! Not one but probably dozens, all flying about for summertime bugs. If you listen in the still night air, you can hear an occasional "click" as they echolocate their next meal. A few night ago in the early evening I saw what I thought to be multiple small birds flying a circuit over our garden. What? Swallows? Martins? I walked outside in my bathrobe to see what it could be. I was met by hundreds of very large dragonflys! Other than a recent rain, there are no areas of standing water nearby - save our very small birdbath. It was magical.

All of this just proves how nice it is to spend some time outdoors at night. The country is especially pleasant at later hours when we can enjoy what the sky has to offer.

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