Category Archives: sky watching

Watch the Space Station Go Over Tonight!

The ISS over the Pacific Ocean

The ISS over the Pacific Ocean

The International Space Station (ISS) will travel over Central Texas tonight and you can see it if the clouds cooperate. It will be visible for 6 minutes (it moves pretty fast). Look to the southwest at 9:16 PM. It will travel from southwest to northeast, reaching a maximum elevation of 79 degrees. Just FYI, 90 degrees would be straight overhead.

The ISS is the third brightest object in the sky, after the sun and the moon . . . even brighter than Venus, which you can see low in the west at dusk.

You can sign up for a free text alert from NASA to let you know when the ISS will be visible in your area. It is always either in the early evening or the pre-dawn hours. The sun is below the horizon for you and me but the ISS is not yet in the shadow of the earth. In other words, the sun has not set or risen for the crew of the ISS.

Here is the link: Spot the Station

Here is what the text messages look like: (SpotTheStation) Time: Wed Jun 05 9:16 PM, Visible: 6 min, Max Height: 79 degrees, Appears: SW, Disappears: NE

As you can see, I translated it for you at the beginning of this article but it’s pretty simple once you know the code. By the way, you can tell it’s not an airplane because there are no flashing lights and it is completely silent. If you have never seen it, you’ll be amazed!

Stewart Dale Spencer

“The May-June 2013 Planet Dance” – Don’t Miss This!

WEBvic13_May26evThis is from Tony Flanders at “A remarkable series of events takes place low in the west-northwest shortly after sunset from late May to late June. It features the tightest three-planet grouping visible without binoculars until 2026 and an excellent apparition of Mercury.”

What does that have to do with Coupland you say? Well, it just so happens that Coupland is a great place to stargaze . . . or in this case, planetgaze, which, by the way, is my primary moniker on the Internet: planetgazer. Watching the planets is a wonderful pastime  because you can do it without any special equipment and it’s a lot of fun to point them out to people. Most people pay little to no attention to the constantly changing skies, especially the night sky. I have made it a point my whole life to share my passion for sky watching with my family, my friends, and anyone else who will listen.

A great place to watch this particular night sky show is in front of the aptly-named Hilltop Storage on Powell Street. The skies may not be clear, or they could be hazy, and the lights from Austin, Pflugerville, and Round Rock don’t help. You might be interested to hear about the work of the International Dark Sky Association. Excessive light pollution can be avoided and even reversed!

Regardless, the skies are fairly dark above Coupland, especially toward the east. Perhaps there are a few folks in Coupland who have nice telescopes and wouldn’t mind sharing them a few times a year for some star parties. The Universe is truly an awesome place and Coupland is a great place to experience it!

Click here for the whole story. As Mr. Spock would say, “Fascinating.”

Stewart Dale Spencer