Space Station (again) and an "Iridium flare"
OK, so the clouds didn't part as expected last night, and we all missed the International Space Station flyover. Don't fret. The forecast looks pretty good for tomorrow (FRIDAY) evening, and the ISS will be making another pass.
Find a spot with a broad view of the sky. Look to the west-northwest at 7:34 p.m. EDT. The station will look like a fairly bright and steady white "star," zipping along toward the south southeast. At 7:37 p.m. it should be one third of the way up the sky above the southeast horizon. It will disappear in the south-southeast at 7:40 p.m. We can see the station because of sunlight reflected off its surface and solar panels. It vanishes from view as the ISS moves from sunlight into the Earth's shadow. There are two men aboard, one American, one Russian. Don't forget to wave.
And, since the clouds have cleared this afternoon, tonight (THURS) offers a good chance to see an Iridium flare. That's a flash of sunlight reflected off the antennas of one in a constellation of Iridium telephone satellites. Look halfway up the sky above the southeast horizon at about 8:33 p.m. EDT. Be alert. The flare will brighten to one of the brightest objects in the sky, then fade away in just a few seconds. You're looking at Iridium 16, launched from Kazakhstan in June 1997. It always amazes me that we can predict these things. (Apologies for an incorrect date for this flare in an earlier version of this post.)
For more predictions of future Space Station passes for your location, or Iridium flares, go to Heavens Above.