ISS for December

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ISS for December
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Photo: NASA

By Chuck McPartlin

The International Space Station will be making some nice visible passes in our evening skies to help brighten up the holiday season. Weather conditions and orbital maneuvers permitting, here's where you can expect to see the ISS as 2018 comes to a close. You can always get the latest predictions at Heavens-Above.

On Monday, December 10, the ISS will rise in the NNW at 5:50 PM PST, and make a low pass over our mountain horizon to fade out in the NE at 5:53 PM, just before reaching the bright star Capella.

On Tuesday, it will rise at 6:33 PM in the NW and climb past the bright star Vega to disappear in the Earth's shadow in the NNW at 6:36 PM near the star Deneb. Vega is about 26 light years distant, and Deneb is about 2600 light years away, intrinsically about 10,000 times brighter than Vega.

Wednesday's first pass will be the brightest of this sequence, appearing in the NW at 5:41 PM, following our mountain horizon and the length of Ursa Minor, the Little Dipper, before disappearing in the ESE at 5:47 PM. On its next orbit, the station will briefly show up at 7:19 PM in the W, and cruise low to set in the WSW at 7:20 PM.

On Thursday, the ISS will start in the WNW at 6:26 PM and visit our western and ocean horizon, passing through Aquila, Capricornus, below Mars and the Moon, past Fomalhout (the Lonely One), and disappearing in the dim constellation Phoenix, low in the S, at 6:31 PM. Fomalhaut is about 25 light years away, and has at least one known exoplanet.

There will be a bright pass on Friday, December 14, rising at 5:33 PM in the NW, going past Vega, Enif (the nose of Pegasus), very close to Mars, and setting at 5:40 PM in the SE in Fornax, the Furnace.

The last visible evening pass of 2018 will be on Sunday, December 16, when the ISS will rise at 5:26 PM in the WNW and pass low across our western horizon to set in the SW at 5:31 PM.

Hasta nebula,

Chuck
 
 
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Shasta Guy Dec 14, 2018 07:59 AM
ISS for December

Is there any info on viewing the comet Wirtanen? Can it be seen with the unaided eye?

macpuzl Dec 14, 2018 11:11 AM
ISS for December

You can get star maps for Wirtanen's position at ============================================ https://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/this-weeks-sky-at-a-glance-december-14-22/ ============================================ With the Moon phase brightening, it will be tough even with binoculars. Although the reported magnitude sounds bright, it is an integrated magnitude over the entire extent of the coma, which is at least as large as the full Moon.

Shasta Guy Dec 13, 2018 06:40 PM
ISS for December

Thanks for all the info. I went up to the Mission lawn and I found a dark spot. The haze was a little tough but I saw it at the time window. It had one brightening before it faded away at 6:31. Thanks!

macpuzl Dec 13, 2018 10:38 PM
ISS for December

You're welcome. We were watching from Cleveland School, where we had scopes set up for an astronomy night, and there was an aircraft that flew along a similar path from our vantage point. It was much brighter ;) but its strobes gave away its more mundane identity.

macpuzl Dec 12, 2018 08:46 PM
ISS for December

Glad y'all enjoy watching the ISS. Tonight's pass looked even brighter than predicted.

Baddawg Dec 12, 2018 07:22 PM
ISS for December

Just saw tonight’s brief pass. Thank you Chuck

Potif Dec 11, 2018 12:21 AM
ISS for December

Thank you, once again!!!

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