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March 16, 2009

Forecast improving for space station flyby Tuesday

Our skies will be clearing off by Tuesday evening - just in time for Marylanders to get a fine view of the International Space Station as it flies high over Baltimore. The flyby begins at 7:39 p.m. EDT, only about two hours after the shuttle Discovery is scheduled to pull up alongside the ISS and dock. NASA

UPDATE: Tuesday 5 p.m. Here's a picture of the pair just before they docked, snapped from Holland.

The Discovery crew of seven includes Maryland native and former Waldorf science teacher Richard Arnold (right). There are three crew members aboard the ISS, for a total of 10 humans zipping up the Eastern seaboard, passing 220 miles over Baltimore at a speed of 17,500 mph. Imagine Arnold's two daughters looking up and seeing Dad soaring over like a star!

Look for the ISS and Discovery to appear above the southwest horizon at 7:39 p.m., like a bright, moving star, rivaling Venus in its brilliance. It will be barely 25 minutes after sunset in Baltimore, so the sky will still be quite bright. But observers should have little difficulty spotting the station, which wiNASA/artists concept ll be reflecting the light from the just-set sun.

From there it will fly very close to the bright star Aldebaran, the reddish "eye" of Taurus the Bull, which may or may not be visible in the dusk. It will move close (86 degrees) to the zenith - (90 degrees) straight up - at 7:42 p.m.

Then it's off toward the northeast, passing just beneath the bowl of the Big Dipper before disappearing at 7:46 p.m. Those stars may not be visible, either, depending on where you are.

With luck, Discovery will be slow, and late in pulling up beside the ISS. That would give us an opportunity to see the two objects as separate dots of light - one brighter (ISS), the other dimmer (Discovery). I've seen that twice, and it's quite a spectacle.  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:26 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Comments

Even though it was cloudy, there were enough broken clouds to allow me to see the ISS and shuttle go overhead for approximately 30 seconds to a minute tonight in Towson. It was the third time that I have seen them go over but this was by far the best sighting as they were so high in the sky this time. I'm glad the weather cleared enough today to allow that view!

FR: Good for you! I was unable to see anything through the clouds from Cockeysville. Anyone else catch a glimpse?

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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
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