Tag Archives: International Space Station

It’s a Good Night for Stargazing – Catch it Early!

See Venus dance with the Moon and Antares, followed by the International Space Station!

From This Week’s Sky at a Glance from Sky and Telescope Magazine:


Monday, October 7: During twilight, the waxing crescent Moon shines to the right of Venus. Well to the Moon’s lower right, while twilight is still fairly bright, binoculars show Saturn above Mercury. [Publisher’s Note: Austin smog will make seeing Saturn and Mercury almost impossible.]

Tuesday, October 8: The Moon shines above Venus in twilight. Depending on where you are in North America, the Moon, Venus, and fainter Antares form a nearly equilateral triangle, as shown at right.

You can also see the International Space Station fly over beginning at 8:13 PM tonight! This is from NASA’s free text alert system called “Spot the Station“:

(SpotTheStation) Time: Mon Oct 07 8:13 PM, Visible: 5 min, Max Height: 72 degrees, Appears: SW, Disappears: NE

Translation: Look to the southwest at exactly 8:13 PM. It will appear low in the sky at first. Austin lights will interfere for a bit but be patient. It will rise silently as it heads in a northeasterly direction until it reaches a maximum elevation of 72 degrees (straight overhead would be 90 degrees). It will be visible for about 5 minutes and when it fades, it will fade fast. This is because it will pass into the shadow of the Earth (sunset for the ISS).

By the way, here is a list of the brightest objects in the sky, in order:

  1. The Sun
  2. The Moon
  3. Venus
  4. The International Space Station
  5. Jupiter

Of course, supernovae, comets, meteors, and exploding asteroids can rival the Sun and the Moon but only temporarily.


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