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Friday, September 05, 2014

 

Catch a Series of Bright International Space Station Passes (5-9 September 2014)

The ISS passes through the Southern Cross, as seen from Adelaide on the evening of Saturday 6 September at 19:23 ACST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes near the Southern Cross, as seen from Melbourne on the evening of Saturday 6 September at 19:53 AEST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes through the Southern Cross, as seen from Perth on the evening of Saturday 6 September at 19:24 AWST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.
All sky chart showing local  times from Heavens Above for Saturday 6 September for Adelaide. All sky chart showing local times from Heavens Above for Saturday 6 September for Melbourne.All sky chart showing local times from Heavens Above for Saturday 6 September for Perth.

Starting tonight there are a series of bright evening passes of the International Space Station lasting for 4 days. For many places in Southern Australia this series has the ISS gliding either above or under the Saturn and Mars, depending on where you are, on Saturday September 6. Brisbane also has a bright pass near Saturn and Mars at 18:17 AEST, while in Sydney the bright pass of 18:18 AEST goes nowhere near the planets but comes close to the bright star Altair.

Some of the passes are very short although bright as the ISS enters Earth's shadow, but it is interesting to see the ISS wink out abruptly.

When and what you will see is VERY location dependent, so you need to use either Heavens Above or CalSky to get site specific predictions for your location (I'm using Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth as examples, for example, the view from Melbourne and Adelaide is a bit different to Perth on the night of the 6th). In Ballarat the ISS is just above Saturn, sites just south may See the ISS pass over Saturn.
 
Start looking several minutes before the pass is going to start to get yourself oriented and your eyes dark adapted. Be patient, on the night there may be slight differences in the time of the ISS appearing due to orbit changes not picked up by the predictions. The ISS will be moving reasonably fast when it passes near Mars and Saturn, so Melbourne viewers should be alert as it enters Earth's shadow very quickly, ending the view.

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