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ISS and Total Lunar Eclipse
updated: Apr 02, 2014, 8:00 PM

By Chuck McPartlin

Starting Saturday evening, the International Space Station will once again be making some nice appearances in Santa Barbara skies. I'm just listing the best and brightest evening passes - if you want to catch all of its visible passes, just hit the web at sites like Heavens-Above.com No optical aid is needed to see the ISS, just eyeballs work fine. Of course, visibility will depend on the weather, as clouds here or even far to the west of us can dim the Sun's reflections off the ISS.

Saturday's pass will be very bright in a dark sky. The ISS will rise in the SW at 8:46 PM, pass along Orion and past the Moon and Jupiter, and disappear into the Earth's shadow while still high above the horizon to our NE at 8:51 PM. It is best viewed facing our mountain horizon.

On Sunday, the ISS will make its brightest pass of this series, although the background sky will be a bit brighter, too. It will rise in SW at 7:57 PM, pass just below the bright star Sirius, along Leo, and set in the NE at 8:05 PM. It is best viewed facing our ocean horizon.

On Monday it will be at its faintest for this visit, rising in the W at 8:45 PM, and passing low across our mountain horizon, setting in the NE at 8:51 PM.

Tuesday evening's pass will be a little brighter, rising in the WSW at 7:55 PM, and crossing our mountain horizon at a moderate altitude, setting in the NE at 8:03 PM.

Some good news about the total lunar eclipse on the night of Mon/Tue, April 14/15. Westmont College will open up their Observatory for public viewing, from 10:30 PM to 2 AM. Smaller telescopes set up by the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit will also be set up to view the eclipse, Mars (at its closest for this year that evening), and Saturn. The Westmont Observatory is adjacent to their baseball and athletic fields, on the downhill side of the campus, with parking available nearby.

To check the status of the viewing if the weather looks iffy, call the Westmont Telescope Viewing Hotline at 565-6272.


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