This photograph of the International Space Station was taken from the space shuttle Discovery after the two spacecraft undocked on March 7, 2011. (Credit: NASA)

Pretty much everyone in the Eastern part of the U.S. who has clear skies can get a view of the International Space Station (ISS) tonight (Monday, October 17, 2011). To see it, be outside by 7:16 p.m.

Over the following six minutes the ISS’s orbit around Earth takes it over the East Coast. For our area, the space station is predicted to first appear between 7:16 and 7:17 p.m. low in the southwest. It will pass almost directly overhead at 7:19 p.m., and finally disappear low in the northeast at 7:22 p.m.

Look for a very bright white “star” that is noticeably moving. And wave hello to the three people currently onboard.

If you don’t notice the ISS in the first couple of minutes, don’t give up. You can increase your chances of spotting it by inviting friends to help scan the sky with you. You might also practice “ambush astronomy” and introduce nearby friendly pedestrians to one of the coolest things to see in the sky.

Although the space station orbits our planet about every 90 minutes, you won’t see every pass. According to predictions on Heavens-Above and NASA’s satellite sightings page, tonight’s ISS pass should be the easiest one to see from this area for the rest of October.

If you miss the real thing, you can see a simulated ISS pass by attending Morehead's Carolina Skies planetarium program. Just ask your presenter before the show.

One Response

  1. At the International Space Station ISS repairs are often needed on the exterior, the problem is it is a lot of work to send out a manned space walk to do this. Astronauts need oxygen and they have the problems of human error. Yet if we use robots, well they do not complain, unless programmed too. Robots in fact could spend months to fix something, astronauts five day space walk missions are about all we can muster right now and if we cannot get it done in time, imagine the cost for another launch. What about Fatigue factors, which take a toll on the organic components of the human body? Costs to send up a space crew to do repairs can be millions if not billions of dollars.;

    Sharika Salvietti

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