Between 7:35 and 7:40 p.m. tonight, be sure to look up. The International Space Station (ISS), flying at altitude of about 220 miles up, will cruise through the clear autumn sky and make a pretty close pass to our nation’s capital.
Here’s a detailed timeline, which explains where the ISS will be at different times during the five minute viewing window and where to look:
* The ISS will first be visible in the southwest sky as it flies over Panama City, Florida between 7:35 and 7:36 p.m. It will be heading northeast through Georgia and then the central Carolinas.
* It will be highest in the sky between 7:38 and 7:39 p.m. as you look southeast and then east. During this interval, it will pass almost directly overhead Williamsburg, Va. and Salisbury, Md.
* It will continue northeast- arriving near Cape May, NJ at 7:39 p.m., while getting lower in the sky. It will exit our view as it approaches Cape Cod around 7:40 p.m.
The above timeline should tell you the ISS is really trucking. How fast? At a speed of about 5 miles per second (or 18,000 miles per hour)!
The Fayetteville Observer says if you view the ISS through a telescope you might be able to see some of its finer structure, that is, if you can keep up with it at that speed.
WJLA’s Bob Ryan notes this is a particularly prime time of year to check out the ISS since it remains illuminated by the sun (even after the sun has set on Earth): “its solar panels covering an area greater than a football field will be very bright, reflecting the light of the sun,” Ryan writes.
“This newest Dragon holds 1,000 pounds of groceries, clothes, science experiments and other gear,” the AP said.
Writes the Economist: “it included a delivery of ice cream, a rare treat for the astronauts exiled there; and it is the first cargo flight to the station undertaken by a commercial company.”