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Friday, August 25, 2017

 

See the ISS Shoot the Moon (26-27 August) and more bright passes (26 August-2September, 2017)

The ISS passes across the Moon, as seen from Brisbane on the evening of Saturday 26 August at 18:30 AEST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes close to the Moon, as seen from Adelaide on the evening of Saturday 26 August at 19:35 ACST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes close to the Moon, as seen from Perth on the evening of  Sunday 27 August at 18:46 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 26 August for Brisbane.All sky chart showing local  times from Heavens Above for Saturday 26 August for Adelaide.All sky chart showing local times from Heavens Above for Sunday 27 August for Perth.

Starting tonight there are a series of bright evening passes of the International Space Station lasting six to eight days (depending on your city). Some are low to the horizon, some rapidly enter earth's shadow, but for many places in Australia this series has  a spectacular encounter with the ISS gliding close to the trio of Jupiter, ste bright star Spica and the crescent Moon.

The best views are form Brisbane and surrounds where the ISS passes over the Moon, and Perth where the ISS just clips the Moon (some areas around Perth may also see it pass over the Moon).

Some local circumstances on the best nights are below:

Adelaide (26th, ISS just beyond the Moon)

EventTimeAltitudeAzimuthDistance (km)BrightnessSun altitude
Rises19:31:47306° (NW)2,3150.8-21.0°
Reaches altitude 10°19:33:5210°302° (WNW)1,463-0.3-21.4°
Enters shadow19:36:5057°248° (WSW)485-3.3-22.0°
  
Brisbane (26th, passes over the Moon)

EventTimeAltitudeAzimuthDistance (km)BrightnessSun altitude
Rises18:26:22312° (NW)2,3050.9-12.8°
Reaches altitude 10°18:28:2610°308° (NW)1,454-0.1-13.2°
Maximum altitude18:31:4061°227° (SW)464-3.4-14.0°
Enters shadow18:34:0816°148° (SSE)1,154-1.9-14.5°
   
Melbourne (26th, ISS enters earths shadow just below Moon)

EventTimeAltitudeAzimuthDistance (km)BrightnessSun altitude
Rises20:03:23299° (WNW)2,3210.8-26.3°
Reaches altitude 10°20:05:3010°293° (WNW)1,468-0.3-26.7°
Enters shadow20:06:5022°284° (WNW)959-1.3-26.9°
 
 Perth (27th, ISS clips Moon some nearby areas may see it go over the Moon)
EventTimeAltitudeAzimuthDistance (km)BrightnessSun altitude
Rises18:41:42314° (NW)2,3090.9-10.2°
Reaches altitude 10°18:43:4610°312° (NW)1,457-0.2-10.6°
Maximum altitude18:47:0280°225° (SW)417-3.8-11.3°
Enters shadow18:50:0112°137° (SE)1,341-1.6-11.9°
  
 Sydney (28th, very close pass to Jupiter, then Spica)
EventTimeAltitudeAzimuthDistance (km)BrightnessSun altitude
Rises18:19:08307° (NW)2,3131.1-10.0°
Reaches altitude 10°18:21:1310°303° (WNW)1,4610.0-10.5°
Maximum altitude18:24:2860°222° (SW)470-3.3-11.1°
Enters shadow18:27:4111°140° (SE)1,451-1.4-11.8°


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 the Moon or missing it completely.

There are lots of other good encounters passing near the pair of Jupiter and Spica and the increasingly distant Moon and Saturn as well. 
 
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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