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Space Station fly-bys on tap tonight and tomorrow

Posted by Derek Flack / March 7, 2011

Space Station TorontoMore news from space, but this time there's a pretty good chance you'll be able to see what us nerds are drooling over. That is, if you're quick. The International Space Station (and the Discovery Space Shuttle) will be making a couple of super-fast fly-bys over Toronto tonight and tomorrow. And though it won't look like the photo above, if you know where to direct your gaze, it should be pretty cool to watch it whip through the sky.

According to Space Weather, "the International Space Station is the biggest, brightest object orbiting Earth. The station's solar arrays span 240-feet from tip to tip, almost as wide as a football field. The ISS outshines Venus; only the sun and Moon are brighter."

Because it doesn't really have lights of its own, the best time to catch the ISS is when it passes your area shortly after sunset (when it picks up sunlight but it remains dark at ground level). This is good for us, as tonight's pass is scheduled at 6:56 p.m. and tomorrow's at 7:22 p.m. So while fly-bys are a fairly common occurrence, these viewing conditions should be nearly ideal.

Here's the catch: the ISS generally moves across the horizon for only three to four minutes. So if you want to see it, you'll need to know exactly where to look. Toward that end, NASA's Human Space Flight page is helpful (as is Heavens Above, though it's been temperamental of late). Generally speaking, viewers should look to the west northwest. And whatever you do, don't bust out the binoculars or telephoto lenses before you get a handle on its location as you're likely to miss it all together. Once you have it in sight, you might want to consider using magnification.

Lead photo from NASA

Discussion

14 Comments

Tim / March 7, 2011 at 06:33 pm
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Attn Nerds.
Frank / March 7, 2011 at 06:45 pm
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I am so on this!
Roberto / March 7, 2011 at 07:03 pm
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Just saw them pass overhead..
HUK / March 7, 2011 at 07:05 pm
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I MOONED THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bret / March 7, 2011 at 07:05 pm
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Just watched the ISS and Discovery pass overhead with my 5 and 7 year old kids. AWESOME!!!
George / March 7, 2011 at 07:09 pm
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Me and my 9yr. Old just caught it flying by NJ. Cool Stuff !
ASSMILK / March 7, 2011 at 07:18 pm
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ITS A FOOTBALL FIELD IN LENGTH............ A FOOTBALL FIELD..........?!?!?! THATS *TEN* FOOTBALL FIELDS IN LENGTH
Jacky / March 7, 2011 at 07:37 pm
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It was amazing to watch-I feel bad for those that missed it.
kalen / March 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm
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Will BlogTO get their hands on any photographs of it??
Sean / March 8, 2011 at 09:14 am
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Do they mean a North American length of a NFL football field or a European (soccer) field?

Take your pick here.

NFL field:
Length: 120 yards
Width: 53 1/3 yards


European (soccer) field:

Length: anywhere from 100 yards 130 yards
Width: between 50 yards and 100 yards
qwerty replying to a comment from Sean / March 8, 2011 at 09:17 am
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Canadian Football field:
150 yards length
65 yards width
JIMBOYYZ / March 8, 2011 at 11:15 pm
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SAW BOTH GOING OVER ONE FOLLOWING THE OTHER . NEAT . FROM MY VIEWPOINT THEY PASSED BY JUST BELOW THE QUARTER MOON AND RIGHT ALONG THE CONSTELLATION ORIONS STAR BELT! .. WESTERN SKIES NORTH TO SOUTH .. FIRST ONE A BIT DIMMER THAN SECOND ONE, SO PRESUME SHUTTLE WAS FIRST AND ISS NEXT ... FABULOUS ..WORTH GOING OUT IN THE COLD FOR THIS ONE!
Steven / March 8, 2011 at 11:59 pm
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I saw one but not the other, I wasn't looking for two so I missed a bit. I saw a bright white dot moving from N/NW to S/SE and right past the moon. I think it must have been the ICC?
Fantomex / March 9, 2011 at 12:25 am
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I do so wish that this event would get people to be more interested in the space program....

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