Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ISS/Shuttle Pass Overhead

On Sunday (11/23/08) evening, just after sunset, we had an excellent pass of the International Space Station occur. I had received an e-mail from a friend in Pennsylvania about the evening prior, how beautiful and bright the ISS was as it crossed his sky. As these orbits come in clusters - passes will all be just before sunrise, just after sunset or not at all - I figured there would be another nice pass that night. I looked it up on Heavens Above and indeed there was.

When I first went outside, this is the view I had to the southwest. You can barely see it in this reduced shot, but both Jupiter and Venus hung nearby one another in a beautiful celestial display. The sky was fairly clear (and cold); there were just a few long, whispy clouds passing by.

The actual pass of the ISS began at 5:57 p.m. (10 degrees WSW). Below as a 4 second time exposure (the sky was still too bright to do extended exposures).

The ISS was highest in our sky at 6:00 p.m. (50 degrees NW) but I waited until it had passed towards the NE before taking more photos. This one (belwo) was taken towards the NE as it dropped lower and lower in the sky, seeming to come in for a landing in Dayton's glow. At the top right of the picture, you can see a jet enter the frame, it's lights blinking on and off.

Taking a closer look at the jet, there is enough detail to see the seperation between the white lights on either wing. I should have zoomed in and tried for even more detail.

Finally - with a tip of the hat to Heavens Above - here's the ground track for this ISS pass. When the odd directions seem deceiving (WSW->NW->NE), you need only look at the ground track to clear up the path in your mind.

This particular pass ended for me at 6:02 p.m. (11 degrees NE) when the ISS passed into the Earth's shadow. This pass, by the way, was one with the Shuttle docked there. I suppose it makes the object appear even brighter.
In any case, I was glad to get back inside because the night air was particularly chilling.