Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ISS Passes Overhead

Every now and then I'll note a particularly good pass of the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled for that evening. I always visit this link to get details for the pass.
So last Friday (06/25/10) evening I had written down the times of the pass and where I was to look and was stationed in the backyard, camera mounted on the tripod and eagerly awaiting the pass.
The ISS came from the SW (10 degrees at 10:03 p.m.), was at its highest point in the SE (54 degrees at 10:06 p.m.) and faded back into the earth's shadow as the ISS moved to the ENE (10 degrees at 10:09 p.m.)

This shot (above) was taken late in the pass (10:08 p.m.) and faces a little N of E. I'm shooting above the row of Scotch Pines that line the front of our property on S. Clayton Road.
As I stood there with the camera, I noticed that Sam was coming out of his lane in his truck. What you see at the bottom of this shot is his truck (side marker lights and taillights) as he passes on the road below heading north.
Within a minute of taking this shot, the ISS was scheduled to pass back into the earth's shadow. I did not wait it out as the mosquitoes and bugs were too bad to delay going back to the house. But I've seen this happen before. One instant and the ISS is bright ... then there is a slight blink and it's gone. It disappears while it's still in full view. You'd think this would give rise to UFO reports, but no. Who looks skyward any longer?

And this shot (above) was taken at 10:06 p.m. and faces roughly ESE. The line you see which is etched by the movement of the ISS is the distance the space station travels in 15 seconds. At it's highest, it is just 246 miles above the earth, not so far, really.

I enjoy standing in the dark and watching the sky for sights such as these, as much for the quiet alone time as anything else. How nice to have the dark canopy overhead, the entire universe revolving above me, riding this small chunk of rubble through the cosmos. It is a staggering thought, this earth .. a tiny spaceship of our own, all we truly have in this wide ocean of space, journeying utterly alone.