Published: 2020-08-02 17:39:00
Updated: 2020-08-02 17:40:31
By Tony Rice, NASA Ambassador
Look for the International Space Station (ISS) during two very bright passes over our area this week. As we reach the midpoint of summer its also a good time to look for the summer triangle formed by the bright stars Altair, Deneb, and Vega, each of which is the brightest star of its constellation (Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra)
The ISS will pass very brightly through the evening sky beginning at 9:26 pm from the northwest. It will gradually dim five minutes later as it enter's the Earth's shadow in the eastern sky. Also look the southeast after dark, the Moon, Saturn and Jupiter will form a gentle curving line.
The Moon turns full today at exactly 11:59 am EDT. Look for it to rise about 30 minutes after sunset. The August full moon is was known as the Sturgeon Moon by Algonquin tribes for the large number of fish in the lakes this time of year. Other names for this full moon include Green Corn Moon, Barley Moon, Fruit Moon, and the Grain Moon.
Mars is also at its closest point to the Sun today in it's 1.88 year orbit, perihelion. It looks a bit brighter than usual.
The ISS will pass directly over central North Carolina beginning at 8:40 pm from the northwest, setting a full seven minutes as it enters Earth's shadow near the southeastern horizon. These are the brightest of the ISS passes because the station is so much closer. The ISS is about 1,500 miles away when it first appears and less than 275 miles away and at its brightest as it flies overhead.
Summer's midpoint arrives at 1:08 pm EDT, the midpoint between the June Solstice and September Equinox.
Look directly overhead for the Summer Triangle described above. The bright star Vega is only a few degrees from being directly overhead.
Mars and the waning gibbous Moon rise around 11 pm separated by less than 3 degrees.