ISS_JohnWheelerNow that Labor Day is over, this short work week will give us a gift a few times over. There is a sky show this week partly thanks to NASA. But if you miss one, there will be plenty of other chances to see it. The International Space Station is in an orbital pattern that favors the eastern US with multiple shows. There is one catch however… They all will be in the early morning.   This might benefit the early risers and science teachers to help engage their students. But we all can take advantage of the September heat wave as the sky should be clear and the temperatures will be warm, at least for the first one on Tuesday morning. Quick planning for the other days:  Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The moon phase is waning crescent. That means is will be less luminous each morning and should not hinder your viewing if the sky is clear. Friday morning, if clear,  might provide a crescent moon just before sunrise for the most picturesque scene.

What you ‘may’ see:

The flyover might look like a very fast moving, very bright plane, that does not flash its lights.

The ISS is orbiting between 205 and 270 miles above the ground. It makes a complete orbit around Earth 15 times a day, traveling at 4.76 miles/second. Top speed is 17,150 mph.  It has lights and also catches sunlight at that altitude that can filter through or around the atmosphere. But these will not blink, so you will know it is NOT an airplane if the light remains steady.

Where to look:

The good thing about the multiple flyovers is that they will traverse different parts of the sky. I have posted a map of each flyover this week below to show the different paths. If you have an obstruction on one side of your home, you may be able to see one of the other chances.  Note that when altitude is given, this refers to an angle above the horizon. Zero is the horizon and 90 degrees would be directly overhead. So a 45 degree angle would be about halfway up.

Please don’t laugh at these other pointers, they do help some people.

  • West: This is where the sun sets. More likely northwest.
  • Southwest: This may be the starting view point for most flyovers. Face where the sun sets, and this direction would be on your left side.
  • East: This is where the sun rises. This general direction is also where the flyovers will end or move out of view.
  • Northwest: Face where sun rises by where you are and on your left would be northwest.
  • Southwest: Face where sun rises and this would be on your right side.

Tuesday September 8

  • South-Southwest to East Northeast. More than halfway up above the horizon.
  • Sunrise at 6:41 AM


Thursday September 10

  • West-Southwest to Northeast. The BEST showing of the week at 66 degrees above the horizon.
  • Sunrise at 6:43 AM


Friday September 11

  • South to East Northeast. Another good showing with a 60 degree elevation.
  • Sunrise at 6:44 AM


Saturday September 12

  • West to Northeast. This will be lower in the sky at 30 degrees.
  • Sunrise at 6:45 AM


Sunday September 13

  • North to Northeast. This will be pretty good with an elevation 47 degrees above the horizon
  • Sunrise at 6:46 AM


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