One of our activities is, and has been for quite a while (since living in California) watching the International Space Station fly over when visible. Last Sunday night’s pass was quite a treat in that it had nearly everything going for it: cloudless skies, convenient timing and an almost direct overhead pass.
In the image above, you can see the ground track of the ISS as it passed over the Southwestern US. The maximum predicted elevation for this particular pass was 88° which barely missed our exact location to the southeast, but watching the fly-over, one could not perceive any difference from a direct overhead pass. Image credit Heavens Above.
Another attribute that is not always the case during a pass is that the ISS remained sunlit during the entire pass. We live in a slight hollow below surrounding terrain and saw the ISS rise in the southwest above some local hills and it few over us and set in the northeast behind some other terrain. We always enjoy watching the ISS and other satellites flying over, but this one was unusually spectacular.
It’s been too cloudy here, but I have seen it several times since we moved here. Before I met SLW, I watched the ISS, a Progress supply ship, AND a shuttle, fly over one night. It was amazing, like a little freight train in the sky!
We also have been watching it for a very long time. I remember seeing shuttle/ISS in orbit many times during ISS basic construction. And now that SpaxeX is tending the ISS, we also have seen those together.
We subscribe to Heavens Above (see link in the post) to get orbital predictions and see the ISS when weather permits almost every month now.
I run my own tracking software from my HamSat chasing days. I run SatPC32 on Windows, and gPredict on Linux. They update the Keplarian Elements over the network, so they’re very easy to keep updated. The software I ran on my Commodore took quite a while to update. Had to print out the Keps from Amasat, and then manually type them in!
I’ll keep my eyes open for a SpaceX resupply mission that’s visible. If I’m reeeal lucky, I’ll see them go over before docking.
DrJim – I remember you at Ft. MacArthur with the satellite tracking setup. Glad that you are still into that.
SpaceX has given us a bunch of sky phenomena not the least of which have been spectacular vapor trails when they do a west coast launch.
We also subscribe to NASA ISS tracking updates. The morning hours are the best time in Hawai’i to catch the flyovers. When it’s not so cloudy we can also see the solar panels.
We have been watching the ISS for years but I can’t recall seeing the panels. I’ll have to get out the binoculars and give that a try one of these days.
I looked at your U2B video. Pretty good for a cellphone capture.