Space station spices up short May nights


International Space Station Commander, Chris Hadfield, performs a revised version of David Bowies Space Oddity on board the station earlier this week. This is for real – enjoy!

The early bird is back! The International Space Station is once again making passes during morning twilight, putting in regular appearances for U.S. skywatchers. And I do mean early. With the sun now rising well before most of us are up and around, you’ll need to be out between about 3 and 5 a.m. to catch a look. Either that or party all night and wag your weary head skyward at dawn before crashing.

Log in to Heavens Above for viewing times and maps or go to Spaceweather’s Satellite Flybys page and type in your zip code.

Here’s when to watch for the Duluth, Minn. region. Brightness is given as magnitude. For reference, Jupiter is -2.5 magnitude, Venus -4.5 and the brightest star Sirius about -1.5. Altitude is in degrees; one fist held at arm’s length equals about 10 degrees.

* Sat. May 18 starting at 4:45 a.m. Low pass across the south-southeast. Max. brightness -1 magnitude, max altitude 20 degrees.
* Sun. May 19 at 3:57 a.m. low in the eastern sky. Mag. -1, altitude 13 degrees.
* Mon. May 20 at 4:43 a.m. Very nice pass across the south and east. Mag. -2.6, altitude 45 degrees
* Tues. May 21 at 3:55 a.m. visible low in the south to east. Mag. -2, altitude 28 degrees
* Weds. May 22 at 4:40 a.m. straight across the top of the sky. Mag. -3.3 (brilliant!) Altitude 86 degrees
* Thurs. May 23 at 3:51 a.m. high across the south and east. Mag. -3.2 (brilliant!) Altitude 60 degrees
* Fri. May 24 at 3:03 a.m. First appears in the southeast moving east. Mag. -2.6, altitude 38 degrees. Second pass at 4:36 a.m. across the northern sky. Mag. -2.5, altitude 50 degrees
* Sat. May 25 at  3:46 p.m. high in the northern sky. Mag. -3, altitude 69 degrees

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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.

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