Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Wanna spy on the Astronauts?
There will be a special treat for sky watchers this week. The International Space Station (ISS) should be visible this week in the skies. The best time to catch it is within the first 45 to 90 minutes after sunset. Or if you are an early riser ( bless your heart ) about the same amount of time before sunrise. It can be seen because the sun light is reflected off of it against a darkening sky It will be visible all night but those times are best because there will be fewer stars shining brightly to obscure the view. It should be easy to spot because it is one of the few "moving stars.” The ISS is by far the largest and most brilliant of all the man-made objects orbiting the Earth about once every 91 minutes. The Space Station is circling the Earth at an average altitude of 240 miles and at a speed of 18,000 mph, it can appear to move as fast as a high-flying jet airliner, taking four or five minutes to cross the sky.
The station is big more than four times as large as the historic Russian Mir space station It measures 356 feet across and 290 feet long, and has almost an acre of solar panels to provide electrical power.