03 July 2006

The Final Frontier

I went out this evening, well, not out-out; the mosquitoes are easily, not kidding, in the millions tonight, but out on my screened porch and then run-fast-quick out to my car, to watch the International Space Station orbit overhead. A perfect night to view it from this part of New England as the skies were clear, the sun was just down giving the ISS a lot of shine and early enough for me to still be awake.

In just 3 minutes that thing, hurtling through space rose WNW, glided overhead SSW and darkened from view SE as it entered Earth’s shadow. As I sat in my car and watched through binoculars at this spacecraft shining like a sharp, bright star, I could not help but find it astonishing to consider there are people in it!

The highlighted circle is the region where the satellite was at least 10° above my horizon. (The size of the circle depends on the height of the satellite.)

Solid part of orbit shows where the satellite was sunlit, and the dashed part where it went into the Earth’s shadow and was rendered invisible. That occured about 9:20PM.

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