Space Station Flyover, Friday, November 21, 5:05pm

Most of you probably already know that when satellites fly over your location shortly after sunset or before sunrise, you can often see them with the naked eye. Well, tomorrow, Friday, November 21, there’s a pretty good flyover of the International Space Station (I ‘m pretty sure the Space Shuttle is still attached). It’ll be very bright, about as bright as Jupiter, which is the dimmer of the two very bright "stars" you see to the southwest after sunset (the brighter one, to the lower right of Jupiter, is Venus).

Start looking below and to the right of the Jupter/Venus pair, around 5:05pm.  By 5:07, you should see the bright space station as it rises out of the twilight and heads to the northeast.  It’ll be nearly overhead at 5:09, and then continue to the northeast, disappearing around 5:13pm. Detailed charts and information can be found here.

To the naked eye, it’ll just look like a really bright, fast-moving point of light. You can tell it's not a plane if there is no accompanying noise and if there is no flashing red beacon on a wingtip.

With binoculars, you may be able to detect that the object is not a point of light. If you could boost the magnification up to 20 or 30 times, you’d be able to make out the main solar panels of the space station.

Happy hunting!

It was a very nice flyover. 

It was a very nice flyover.  I didn't have a watch handy so I don't know if it was exactly on time.  It was also a little further west (right) of where I thought it would be.  I caught it when it was already pretty high.  It also looked brighter than predicted, probably because the space station keeps getting bigger.  Also, with the shuttle still attached, the reflective surface of the two objects is somewhat larger than for just the station alone.

In my 15x70 binoculars, I could again see the soloar panels to the side, but just barely.  I think next time I'll try one of my spotting scopes, which has a higher magnification but will be a little harder to aim.