This artist's concept shows the International
Space Station passing above the straits of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean
Sea after all assembly is completed in 2003. The completed station
will be powered by almost an acre of solar panels and have a mass
of almost 1 million pounds. The pressurized volume of the station
will be roughly equivalent to the space inside two jumbo jets.
International Space Station
Web sites developed by both NASAs Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and NASAs Johnson Space Center,
Houston, Texas, are making it easy and exciting for enthusiasts
across the country and around the world to catch a glimpse of
the International Space Station.
Marshalls Liftoff to Space Exploration web site,
and Johnsons Skywatch web site, http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/
let you identify the orbiting space stationand determine,
in advance, when it will pass over your hometown.
Orbiting at more than 200 miles above the Earth, the Space Station
is quickly growing into one of the brightest permanent fixtures
in the night sky. Currently made up of the American module Unity
and the Russian section Zarya, the station circles
the planet approximately 16 times per day, traveling at 17,500
mph in an orbit.
Because it reflects sunlight, the space station often looks like
a slow-moving star as it crosses the sky. That deceptive appearance
can fool a casual viewer, but it also makes sighting the station
easier if one knows when and where to look. The best time to catch
a glimpse of the space station is near dawn or dusk, when the
viewer is in near-darkness and the passing station continues to
reflect light from the rising or setting Sun.
NASAs web sites provide users with optimal visibility times
for their locations. Viewed under optimal conditions, the station
has been observed to appear nearly as bright as the star Sirius.
When construction is complete, estimates suggest the 470-ton city
in space will be brighter than the planet Venus.
Access to both NASA web sites requires a Java-enabled browser,
such as recent versions of Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet
Explorer. For viewers without a Java-enabled browser, the web
sites include other methods for obtaining sighting information.
Johnsons Skywatch site contains a text-only list of sighting
opportunities, while Marshalls site features an automated
mailing list option. Subscribers to the listmore than 8,000
to dateare notified by e-mail of upcoming satellite passes.
The International Space Station is a cooperative endeavor by the
United States and 15 other nations. It is the largest international
space construction effort in history.
Walter Scott Houston
Many EAS members knew the beloved
Deep Sky Wonders author, Walter Scott Houston. Lewis
Epstein has received word of updated plans to honor him with a
significant project of benefit to the amateur astronomy community.
Original plans were for a sundial on the Wesleyan University campus
in Middletown, Connecticut, but the estimated cost proved to be
too ambitious; and an alternative project has been chosen to honor
Professor William Herbst of the Astronomy Department at Wesleyan
wrote: We plan to
renovate the 20-inch Clark refractor
at the [Van Vleck] Observatory so that it can be used by amateur
astronomers to enjoy the sky, as Walter Scott Houston himself
used the telescope on many occasions. This project has the blessing
of the Astronomy Department at Wesleyan, the Astronomical Society
of Greater Hartford and Miriam Houston, who writes: A handsome
sundial would certainly enhance the campus
But a plan so
folks could have help and company while looking at the stars
that reflects my husband's life-long devotion.
Freely ranging over all aspects of his favorite science, his popular
columns in Sky & Telescope were instrumental in teaching
amateur astronomers what marvelous things can be seen in our skies,
and how to understand and enjoy this great celestial panorama.
Scotty died in 1993.