Int'l Space Sta. due over Baltimore Tues. night
Space Cadets! It would be hard to find a better opportunity to watch the International Space Station fly over Baltimore than the one we're expecting Tuesday evening.
The Heavens-Above web site shows the flight track carrying the giant tinker toy from Lake Michigan, almost directly over Baltimore, and then southeast to the Delaware Shore before heading out over the Atlantic.
The weather forecast looks favorable. There's a cold front due to pass through the region tonight, bringing some mid-level clouds with it. But they should clear away during the day Tuesday as high pressure builds into the region behind the front.
UPDATE, 4:50 p.m. Tuesday: Forecast is holding up. Here's the latest Clear Sky chart.
A few more clouds may move through late Tuesday night. But generally the forecast calls for a sunny day Tuesday and partly cloudy conditions Tuesday night. It may be a close call on the arrival of the clouds Tuesday evening. Fingers crossed.
If skies stay clear, look for the ISS to appear above the northwestern horizon at 7:29 p.m. Tuesday. Look for a bright, star-like object climbing briskly. If it has multiple, blinking or colored lights, it's an aircraft. Keep looking. The station will move through the stars of the handle of the Big Dipper, reaching the zenith (straight up) at 7:32 p.m. From there, it will move off toward the southeast, fading to black at 7:36 p.m.
The station is moving at 17,500 mph, about 220 miles above the Earth. There are currently three other spacecraft docked with the station, including two Russian Soyuz vehicles that will bring the current crews home, and two Russian Progress supply craft - one of which arrived Sunday. The next (and next-to-last) U.S. shuttle flight to the station is scheduled for Nov. 1.
There are six crew members on board. They include three Russian men - a Russian Air Force colonel, a rocket engineer and a mechanical engineer born in Georgia; also three Americans - a U.S. Army colonel with an engineering degree, and two American women - one a chemist and the other a physicist.
If the weather cooperates, be sure to stop back here and leave a comment about the spectacle. I like to think it helps get more people out to look with their children, and maybe that will inspire someone's kids to pursue a career in science.