With skies expected to remain mainly clear this evening, Tuscarawas Valley sky watchers will have a great opportunity to view the International Space Station as it crosses over the region after sunset.
If you would like to get in on watching the ISS tonight, look to the west-northwest (NW) horizon at 6:47 p.m. The space station will be traveling toward the southwest sky before finally dipping out of view in the SW horizonat around 6:53 p.m.
Maximum elevation will be 63 degrees. An elevation of 90 degrees is straight up. The station will remain in view 6 minutes and 21 seconds if you can catch it horizon to horizon.
It will also be very bright – even youngsters will have little trouble spotting it once pointed in the right direction. Maximum brightness is -3.1 magnitude. (very bright)
The map below will make it easy to get your bearings for tonight’s pass.
WEATHER CONDITIONS: Skies will be mostly clear this evening with very few clouds to hamper viewing (about 8% cloud cover). Temperatures will be a cold 28 degrees, so you’ll probably need a coat.
How to Spot the ISS – What to Look For
Look for a very bright ‘star’ or point of light moving very quickly across the sky. It will be moving faster than a commercial jetliner. The space station has no strobe lights and it does not produce a contrail. There is no noise and it does not ‘twinkle’ or blink.
Light from the station is reflected light from the sun. The station presents a fairly large point of light – much bigger and brighter than any star or planet. And, unlike a star or planet, it travels across the sky.
For the best results, observers should look in the direction shown at the time listed. Although bright passes can often be spotted in our local towns and villages, if you can get away from city lights it will be easier to see. Because of the speed of an orbiting vehicle (see below), telescopes are not practical. However, a good pair of field binoculars may reveal some detail of the structural shape of the spacecraft.
How high is the ISS and how fast is it moving?
The International Space Station travels in orbit around Earth at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour (that’s about 5 miles per second!). This means that the Space Station orbits Earth (and sees a sunrise) once every 92 minutes! On average, the ISS orbits at about 220 miles above the Earth.