« Tropics are stirring | Main | Hot, hotter, then showers »

July 17, 2008

Bright space station flyby due


As long as this relatively clear, dry weather holds up, Marylanders should make plans to catch a good, long look at the International Space Station Friday evening as the giant Tinker Toy flies up the east Coast.

This will be an unusually bright pass by the station, at Magnitude minus-2.4. The sun angles are nearly ideal, and the reflected light will make the station nearly as bright as the planet Jupiter, which has been brilliant the last few nights in the southern sky.

So grab the kids, bang on the neighbors' door and get everybody out to watch for the station. Those are your tax dollars at play up there, after all.

Look for the ISS to rise above the southwestern horizon at 9:48 p.m. Put the kids and their young eyeballs on the case. I'm betting they spot it first, although this flyby will be so bright I can't imagine anyone missing it. It's likely to shine right through any summer haze or thin clouds.

Anyway, the station and its crew of three will climb about halfway up the southeastern sky by 9:51 p.m., passing directly above Jupiter, which is quite low in the southeast.

From there, it will slide off toward the northeast as the station passes off the Delmarva coast and heads on up the Atlantic Seaboard (What is a 'seaboard,' anyway?) toward Nova Scotia. Watch as it passes through the Summer Triangle, the right triangle formed by the bright  stars Vega, Deneb and Altair, which hangs in the eastern sky on summer evenings.

After you've enjoyed the show, drop back here and leave a comment. Let everybody know how cool this really is. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:16 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Sky Watching


If the bright white light the size of Jupiter was the ISS moving across the sky from right to left, then the sighting was pretty cool. A few planes and the bright moon made the sky very entertaining. Thanks for the heads up. It was neat watching the sky even if what we saw wasn't the space station.

FR: That was it. Glad you caught it.

Nicest pass I've seen yet. ISS went over Jupiter, the almost full golden moon then straight through the triangle. It couldn't have been prettier!

It's like a "thing" for my husband and I to go watch this when you signal it.

Problem is, ISS shouldn't be observed when you're sad and feeling small - you will feel even smaller and less sparkly.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

Sign up for FREE weather alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for weather text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Maryland Weather Center

Area Weather Stations
Resources and Sun coverage
• Weather news

• Readers' photos

• Data from the The Sun's weather station

• 2011 stargazers' calendar

• Become a backyard astronomer in five simple steps

• Baltimore Weather Archive
Daily airport weather data for Baltimore from 1948 to today

• National Weather Service:
Sterling Forecast Office

• Capital Weather Gang:
Washington Post weather blog

• CoCoRaHS:
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Local observations by volunteers

• Weather Bug:
Webcams across the state

• National Data Buoy Center:
Weather and ocean data from bay and ocean buoys

• U.S. Drought Monitor:
Weekly maps of drought conditions in the U.S.

• USGS Earthquake Hazards Program:
Real-time data on earthquakes

• Water data:
From the USGS, Maryland

• National Hurricane Center

• Air Now:
Government site for air quality information

• NWS Climate Prediction Center:
Long-term and seasonal forecasts

• U.S. Climate at a Glance:
NOAA interactive site for past climate data, national, state and city

• Clear Sky Clock:
Clear sky alerts for stargazers


• Hubblesite:
Home page for Hubble Space Telescope

• Heavens Above:
Everything for the backyard stargazer, tailored to your location

• NASA Eclipse Home Page:
Centuries of eclipse predictions

• Cruise Critic: Hurricane Zone:
Check to see how hurricanes may affect your cruise schedule

• Warming World:
NASA explains the science of climate change with articles, videos, “data visualizations,” and space-based imagery.

• What on Earth:
NASA blog on current research at the space agency.
Most Recent Comments
Blog updates
Recent updates to news blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected