Spotting the International Space Station

You will often see me looking skyward. I’m fascinated by all things just out of reach. (That’s also why I love to travel.)

“The moon is a stone and the sky is full of deadly hardware, but oh God, how beautiful anyway.” -Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

In my opinion, there are very few things that are as beautiful as the night sky. That notion has become all the more precious to me now that I live in the Pacific Northwest, where that sky is often obscured by clouds. I will never take the heavens for granted again. When they’re visible, I want to be out there, looking at them.

It amazes me that so few of us have seen the third brightest object in our sky. (The sun and the moon being, of course, the first and second.) But the International Space Station moves pretty darned fast, orbiting the earth several times a day. (Explain that, you flat earthers!)

My husband saw it once just after sunset. He says it was high enough that the sun was still hitting it, even though it was dark out. (It’s 248 miles up, after all.) And then, as it headed toward the horizon and got in the earth’s shadow, it blinked out, as if someone had turned out a light. Now, how cool is that?

I must confess that I have yet to see it myself. But I keep trying. And now I have hope. Now you can head on over to the NASA website and sign up for e-mail notifications when the space station will be visible in your location. (Sadly, they don’t account for clouds.)

It is kind of exciting, getting that e-mail, setting my alarm and then rushing out to look up in hope and anticipation. That, and the idea that little ol’ me with my horrible eyesight might be able to see something that is 248 miles away from me… what a concept.

If you haven’t seen the space station yet, I encourage you to give it a try. I guarantee you it will remind you that humans can do amazing things when we set our minds to it, and actually cooperate. That’s a wonderful mindset to have in this era of division and anxiety.

International Space Station Star Trails
“My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.” -NASA/Don Pettit

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

 

4 thoughts on “Spotting the International Space Station

  1. Angiportus Librarysaver

    Will do…eventually. Me, I’ve been noticing planets for many decades. I’ve even caught them rising. Sometimes they are so bright I wonder everyone isn’t out there looking at them. Astronomy is so cool.

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