This one-minute exposure shows the International Space Station passing over Kent on Tuesday night. The ISS will make several passes over Western Washington over the coming week.  (John McLaren/Seattle Astronomical Society)

Look up to catch stellar views of the International Space Station this week

Decent climate and the place of the solar imply that folk throughout Washington ought to have the ability to see the huge spacecraft.

Few folks ever get to go to the International Space Station, however the subsequent two weeks are a main viewing window for people in Washington and far of the Western United States who would love to watch the huge spacecraft because it whizzes overhead.

Through early June, the ISS will probably be transiting the night time sky over Seattle and the Pacific Northwest a number of occasions — and thanks to a mix of first rate climate and the seasonal observe of the solar, even of us in Western Washington ought to have many probabilities to soak up the present.

“We’re kind of lucky this year that it worked out right,” stated John McLaren, president of the Seattle Astronomical Society. “In some years, this doesn’t happen.”

The ISS orbits the Earth each 90 minutes, and its path carries it over the Pacific Northwest — and most different spots on the globe — a number of occasions a day. But Earth-dwellers can solely see the station when it’s darkish on the floor the place they’re — and sunny 250 miles up, the place the station is.

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“Because we’re approaching the start of summer, that means the sun doesn’t get that far below the horizon,” McLaren defined.

So when the ISS handed over his residence in Kent at 11:17 p.m. Tuesday, although it was darkish on the floor, the solar’s rays had been angled good to replicate off the spacecraft — which has only some, small external lights — and make it seen.

This time of 12 months, these situations persist all night time.

“Normally you might be able to see it for one pass a night or maybe two,” McLaren stated. “What’s really unusual here is that we’re having nights when we can see four or five passes in one night.”

McLaren shot a one-minute publicity photograph from his yard that reveals the station as a brilliant streak, like a supersized meteor. Watching it with the bare eye, it seems like a particularly brilliant satellite tv for pc, transferring very quick.

“You look around and all of a sudden you see this thing just chugging across the sky,” stated Seattle Astronomical Society member David Ingram, who tracked the station’s trajectory Tuesday night time. “It’s pretty spectacular when it’s nearly 300 miles above our heads and it’s still in sunshine while we’re down here in darkness.”

The mirrored gentle makes the house station one of the brightest issues in the night time sky, on a par with the planet Jupiter. And which means it’s seen from just about anyplace.

“That’s the beauty of it,” Ingram stated. “You could see it from downtown Seattle.”

With the house station passing over the space each 90 minutes, viewers can watch at their leisure. Each transit lasts between three and 6 minutes.

You can enter your location at a number of web sites to discover a record of transit begin occasions and the place in the sky to focus your consideration. One of the best to use is NASA’s Spot the Station website (

Another supply is

For Seattle, promising time home windows embrace: Wednesday, May 23 at 10:25 p.m.; Thursday, May 24, 9:33 p.m. and 11:10 p.m.; and Friday, May 25, 10:17 p.m. and 11:54 p.m.

The observe shifts barely every night time. In common for the Puget Sound space, the station will seem someplace in the west and transfer to the east. Sometimes, the brilliant dot vanishes because it strikes into the Earth’s shadow.

With binoculars — and a gentle hand — it’s potential to make out some options on the station, Ingram stated. Even higher is a telescope, which might present way more detailed views.

One Seattle-area resident has really hung out on the International Space Station — twice. Former Microsoft govt Charles Simonyi paid $25 million for a 14-day stay in 2007. He preferred it a lot he returned in 2009.

Six astronauts and cosmonauts are presently onboard for the station’s 55th expedition, which incorporates research of thunder and lightning and of microgravity’s results on bone marrow. On Thursday the crew is predicted to rendezvous with the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft, launched Monday.

The payload features a self-contained experiment from researchers at Washington State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to examine plant progress and metabolism in zero gravity, with hopes of serving to future astronauts develop vegetation for meals and power.

WSU scientists are additionally collaborating on a second experiment transported by the Cygnus spacecraft, designed to examine clouds of atoms in temperatures colder than something potential on Earth.

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