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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

 

Bright ISS Passes for Christmas (23-28 December, 2016)

The ISS passes near Jupiter Spica and the Moon as seen from Adelaide on the morning of  Sunday 25 December at 04:55 ACDST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes above bright Sirius as seen from Melbourne on the morning of  Sunday 25 December at 05:25 AEDST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes close to the crescent Moon as seen from Perth on the morning of  Sunday 25 December at 03:59 AWST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS 0will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.
All sky chart showing local  times from Heavens Above for Sunday 25 December for Adelaide.All sky chart showing local  times from Heavens Above for Sunday 25 December for Melbourne.All sky chart showing local times from Heavens Above for Sunday 25 December for Perth.

This week see the start of another series of bright International Space Station passes.

For most of Australia Christmas is made doubly special by a visit from the International Space Station on both Christmas morning (for those getting up early to see what is under the Christmas tree) and Christmas evening. From some sites the ISS will pass very close to Venus or directly overhead in the evening, from others close to Jupiter or the Moon in the morning.  There are also some nice passes close to the pointers and Crux, as well as Sirius and Betelguese.

Most of the major cites see the ISS pass in the morning (Adelaide 04:51:23 ACDST, Brisbane 04:25:06 AEST, Canberra 03:47:14 AEDST, Sydney 03:47:55 AEDST, Melbourne 05:21:54 AEDST, Perth 03:54:49 AWST, Hobart 03:44:58 AEDST) and the evening (Adelaide 21:28:41 ACDST, Brisbane 19:23:12 AEST, Canberra 22:00:54 AEDST, Sydney 22:01:25 AEDST, Melbourne 22:00:15 AEDST, Perth 20:30:58 AWST, Hobart 22:01:27 AEDST) of December 25 (not to mention the passes before and after the 25th). 

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, a small difference in location can mean the difference between the ISS passing over Venus (or Saturn)  and missing it completely.
 
Start looking several minutes before the pass is going to start to get yourself oriented and your eyes dark adapted. Be patient, there may be slight differences in the time of the ISS appearing due to orbit changes not picked up by the predictions. Use the most recent prediction for your site.

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