ISS, The Moon, and a Comet

   This evening, December 27th, weather permitting, the International Space Station should be visible as it travels across northern mid-latitudes of North America. From my location near Kansas City Missouri the ISS will appear over the west-northwest horizon at approximately 6:13 pm CST, and be visible above my local horizon for 6 minutes before it disappears below the south-southeast horizon. Along the way it will reach a maximum altitude angle above the southwest horizon of 42 degrees; pass between two stars of the ‘Summer Triangle’, Altair and Vega; pass above the Planet Mars and Comet Finlay, and below the nearly first quarter Moon. At its greatest brightness the ISS will be between 1st and 2nd magnitude, brighter than the stars of the Big Dipper.

   Much of my information for the ISS comes from NASA’s ISS Sightings web site. From there you may tailor the predictions very specifically for your location. I then use an Astronomy program on the PC and also one on my Kindle to see the path it will follow and what if any other celestial objects it may pass. Read a little more about viewing the ISS and Iridium Flares, as well as suggestions for taking pictures of these Earth orbiters.

   The slideshow below shows the ISS at 1-minute intervals. Since this event is after sunset I have touched up the graphics – brightened and re-colored to make the scene more visible.

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Eclipse Countdown!

   Tomorrow, Thursday October 23rd, there will be a solar eclipse visible across much of North america including the continental United States. For the U.S. the eclipse starts during mid to late afternoon and is in progress at sunset. The further west the higher above the horizon will be the Sun and Moon and much if not all of the eclipse will be seen. From Kansas City Missouri the eclipse will reach a maximum of about 50% and will be setting during mid-eclipse.
   Check the time of your local sunset and then use the online eclipse-time calculator from NASA to find the timing of the eclipse for your location.
solar-eclipse-ani   Alternately use the Eclipse Calculator at the Time and Date web site. Click here to see the times for Kansas City, MO – or to enter the name of your city.
   What will add to the eclipse viewing is the extremely large sunspot that should still be visible tomorrow during the time of the eclipse. I’ve been observing this sunspot since it appeared several days ago. And the large sunspot has been really interesting. I know that the Sun rotates but watching how much this large sunspot has moved in over the last few days is pretty cool. Today the sunspot look liked it was starting to break apart.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


   
   
   
[centup]
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.