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Watching the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery

March 08, 2011 @ 12:34 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Out and about, Photography

The International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery will be passing over Ottawa the next couple of days and, weather-permitting, there should be a couple of opportunities to see them as they pass overhead.

You won’t need any fancy equipment to view them. They’ll look like a pair of bright dots, one chasing the other across the sky. According to the Heavens Above website, there are three passes between now and Thursday evening that should be visible from Ottawa.

Date Mag Starts Max. altitude Ends
Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
8 Mar 0.7 19:22:17 10 W 19:24:46 25 SW 19:26:27 15 S
9 Mar -0.9 18:13:07 10 WNW 18:16:00 67 SW 18:18:57 10 SE
10 Mar 1.1 18:40:28 10 W 18:42:50 22 SW 18:45:13 10 SSE

The pass this evening, for example, will start at 7:22pm Eastern and runs for about 4 minutes. The Shuttle will pass from the west to the south, attaining a maximum elevation of about 25 degrees above the horizon (a bit less than a third of the way to the top of the sky), so you’ll want to watch it from somewhere without anything on the horizon, like the Experimental Farm.

TAF CYOW 081438Z 0815/0912 36006KT P6SM SCT140
BECMG 0819/0821 07008KT
FM091100 08012KT P6SM BKN100
RMK NXT FCST BY 081800Z=

The weather this evening around that time is going to be mostly free of clouds, so this would be a good opportunity to view it. Tomorrow’s pass is going to be the best of the three with a maximum elevation of 67 degrees, but the forecast seems to be calling for snow in the late afternoon tomorrow, which will make it hard to see.

A couple of years ago I managed to catch the International Space Station in some long-exposure photographs, which you can see here. If time permits this evening, I might head out and try to catch the ISS and STS-133 in the same shot.

A tip o’ the hat to Heavens Above for the star chart and the table of passes.

 

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