The International Space Station will make a direct pass over Southern California and Saturn is now at full brightness, in which the station will point Saturn out to you tonight. Read why and more details …
International Space Station – The International Space Station will fly from northwest to southwest tonight. The station will arrive over San Francisco at 8:29, Bakersfield at 8:30, Inland Empire at 8:31, and the US/Mexico Border by 8:31:30pm. That means that it will travel from San Francisco to the border in just over 2 minutes, which is 17,500 mph if you wanted to know. The station orbits the planet in under 90 minutes. They have recently installed a new pair of solar panels on the large solar panel array. This pair is angled at 10 degrees from the main solar panels.
There have been reports that the new panels have made some space station flybys have flares. Flares are when a reflective object reflects a light source back. In this case, the Sun is still shining up there when it is darker down here. The sunlight reflecting off the new panels could make the station briefly get brighter, or flare, for a few seconds. There is no way at the moment to predict that, but some of you just might see it. Yeah I know, some of you are bored of seeing the station go by, but even if you are seasoned or versed in space, this new challenge to see those new solar panels flare will make me go out with each pass to try to catch a glimpse of it. Remember, no matter where you are in Southern California, you will see this between the times listed above if you look around. All overhead passes afford this.
Saturn – Each year, the Earth orbits the Sun. Each year we get between the Sun and Saturn. This year, however, the position of the two planets has made Saturn brighter. We are not closer to it, but Saturn has the rings to answer that question. The rings may look solid from here, but if you were to travel to them, you can fly through them. They are tiny ice particles from an object that was ripped apart, in which the pieces started to rotate around the planet, creating the rings. Because they are ice, they are highly reflective. When on one side of a light source, in this case, the Sun, the light from the source bounces from the ice particles and back to Earth, making the rings brighter than usual. This can be seen visually. And tonight, the International Space Station will point out where Saturn is. When it enters the Earth’s shadow it will vanish out of sight. Right next to it, be it left or right side (whichever side of the path you are on) you will see a bright star low in the sky. That would be Saturn rising.
Now you know … Set your alarms for 8:25 pm and go outside then and wait for the passage during the times listed above. Look northwest for the station to pass overhead. It will look like a plane, but not blinking… a pinpoint of light, and extremely bright. Just remember … There are people up there! And yes, it also proves the freakin Earth is NOT FLAT …
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