6 guys in a flying tin can now appearing in a sky near you

Photo from the space station showing the blast off of the Soyuz TMA-08M rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 29, 2013 carrying Expedition 35 Soyuz Commander Pavel Vinogradov, NASA Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy and Russian Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

The International Space Station (ISS) is back. You can now view it during convenient evening hours for the next few weeks from the U.S. and other locations. Watch for the station to first appear in the western sky looking like a brilliant star with a yellow hue.

Traveling toward the east at 4.8 miles per second (7.7 km/sec) it takes between 3-7 minutes to complete its circuit depending on its height above the horizon during a particular pass. Overhead passes last longest.

Since it takes only about 90 minutes for the craft to orbit Earth, if you see it on a first pass in early twilight, you’ll often get to a second pass around nightfall. During the summer months, a combination of high sun angle and brief nights allow skywatchers to spot the station on every pass or some 5 times in one evening!

This picture was taken at nearly the same time as the one above but from the ground and shows the Soyuz TMA-08M rocket launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi

The 6-man crew of the station has been busy this week with a variety of projects including determining astronaut energy requirements for long-duration stays in space and the BASS experiment. BASS - Burning And Suppression of Solids - studies how materials burn and extinguish in the microgravity of space. What the crew learns will lead to better spacecraft materials as well as new ways of putting out accidental fires in space and on Earth.

Portrait of the Expedition 35 crew currently on board the station. In the front row are Commander Chris Hadfield (right) and Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov. Back row, from left, are Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin, Chris Cassidy, Roman Romanenko and Tom Marshburn. Credit: NASA

ISS viewing times below are for the Duluth, Minn. region, but you can always get times for your city by logging into Heavens Above and selecting your city or plunking your zip code into Spaceweather’s Satellite Flybys site. Or you can make your life easy by signing up to NASA’s Spot the Station. You’ll get an e-mail or text message in advance of easily visible flybys over your town.

For Duluth, Minn. and region:

* Tonight April 7 starting at 9:16 p.m. across the southern sky. Visible for 3 minutes. Enters Earth’s shadow at 9:19 p.m. and quickly disappears from view.

* Mon. April 8 at 8:27 p.m. in twilight. Low pass across the south and southeastern sky. Visible for 5 minutes. Second pass at 10:02 p.m. Visible for 2 1/2 minutes. Comes up in the western sky and enters Earth’s shadow at 10:05 p.m.

* Tues. April 9 at 9:12 p.m. Spectacular pass across the top of the sky. Very bright! Visible for 5 minutes.


From Night to Day to Night Again – a two-and-a-half minute video taken from the ISS of the Earth from orbit

* Weds. April 10 at 8:21 p.m. in twilight. Another brilliant pass high in the southern sky. Flys very close to Sirius, the brightest star, about 8:23 p.m. Visible for 6 minutes. Second pass across the northern sky at 9:58 p.m. Visible for 4 minutes before disappearing in Earth’s shadow.

* Thurs. April 11 at 9:08 p.m. High, bright pass in the northern sky. Visible for 6 minutes.

* Fri. April 12 at 8:17 p.m. Brilliant pass across the top of the sky. Visible for nearly 7 minutes. Second nice pass at 9:54 p.m. across the north.

* Sat. April 13 at 9:03 p.m. across the northern sky. Visible for 6 minutes.

A sharp-edged sickle moon wil be visible low in the eastern sky tomorrow morning April 8. Created with Stellarium

If you’re up early for work tomorrow and have a good view of the eastern horizon, start the day with a smile by watching for the very delicate crescent moon just 2 days from new.

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

2 thoughts on “6 guys in a flying tin can now appearing in a sky near you

  1. HELLO ASTRO BOB; i love you..i want to thank you for all the information you you put on line ,i would be lost without you, well the last few nights panstarrs has been putting on a show ill never forget. tonight i watched it turn from bright orange to pure white…not to mention the the half crown four dotted tail.ty

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