Space station flyover adds a light to Friday night sky
Posted August 21, 2015
Flyovers are an exciting treat at college and professional football games. The bigger the aircraft and the faster it is the better. As the high school football season open across the area, all stadiums will have the biggest, fastest flyover ever: the International Space Station (ISS).
Look to the northwest horizon at 8:33 p.m. for a bright, fast moving white dot rising above the treeline. That's sunlight reflected by the station's solar arrays and exterior surfaces. By 8:36 it will be overhead before disappearing 6 minutes after it appeared. Watch closely as the station nears the horizon. It will gradually dim as the station passes into the shadow cast by the Earth.
The ISS is traveling at just over 17,166 miles per hour, 252 miles above the Earth. It is the largest structure ever built by humans in space. From end to end, its exterior structure could cover a football field.
The station serves as a National Laboratory for the United States and is the springboard to the next steps in human space exploration, beyond low-Earth orbit including asteroids and Mars.
A crew of six are currently onboard: Commander Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko, Oleg Kononenko, Kjell Lindgren, Kimiya Yui and Scott Kelly. Kononenko and Kelly are 146 days into their year in space.
Tony Rice is a volunteer in the NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador program and software engineer at Cisco Systems. You can follow him on twitter @rtphokie.