28 February, 2010

Cheap Thrills

Wow! I got almost the same thrill as I had in October, 1957, when my school friends and I braved a cold Bavarian night to watch Sputnik I whizzing around the world. It happened again, tonight, when I finally got to see the International Space Station (ISS) fly overhead from WNW (right over our house) to roughly NNW.

It was visible for just about two minutes. This was the first time in over two months that I was able to see the ISS, due mainly to cloudiness, but, I have to confess, also due to faulty memory. I even had the sighting schedule  from NASA ( printed out and hung on our fridge. I'd forget to look at it, or I'd get side-tracked by some particularly enthralling episode of Cash Cab, or as I said, on the nights that I did remember, it was overcast. Except for tonight.

It wasn't the brightest thing in the sky, but it was bright enough that it was unmistakable. I timed it perfectly, taking a nice fresh, hot cup of Earl Grey (decaf with 2 packs of Splenda and milk) out to the pool deck with me, so I could brave the cool of the evening and get nice unrestricted viewing from the pool deck.

Quite the treat. The only location available down here is Belize City, but it's close enough that any time differential is inconsequential. Just click on the link, plug in your country and NASA does all the rest for you. I don't know about other areas, but here, the ISS is visible about three or four mornings or evenings each month or so.

Don't forget to print it out. Then you too can savor the moment of forgetfulness.



Perry and Mischelle said...

Hi Dave,
Try this site. If you register, you can use Google Earth to find your exact Long. and Lat., input that into your current observing site and wah lah, you can get all the viewing times for the space station and other celestial objects. You should see it when the space shuttle is chasing to catch up to the space station or departing. Gotta catch that soon, though, with only 4 more shuttle launches left.

Dave Rider said...

Hi Perry,

Hey, thanks. That is a cool site. Come on clear nights!
What comes after the shuttle - Joe's Rent A Wreck Space Delivery, or something?
BTW, thanks again for the flashlight. I've been using it every day walking the girls. I start out in the dark. I turn it on when a vehicle approaches - works like a charm. It's light (no pun), bright and fits easily in my pocket.