April Space Station
By Chuck McPartlin
Santa Barbara will get a very nice series of visible evening passes from the International Space Station over the next week or so, weather permitting. Remember, they adjust their orbit occasionally, so to get the most recent predictions, visit Heavens Above.
On Friday, April 6, the ISS will debut with a brief appearance over our mountain horizon, rising at 9:01 PM PDT in the NNW below Cassiopeia, and passing through her husband Cepheus before disappearing in the NNE near the head of Draco, the Dragon.
Saturday's pass will briefly pop up at 9:44 PM in the NW, only to vanish in the Earth's shadow a minute later by Cassiopeia in the NNW.
Sunday will have a brighter appearance, with the station rising in the NNW at 8:52 PM, cruising through Cassiopeia and Cepheus along our mountain horizon, and disappearing in the tail of Draco in the NE at 8:55 PM.
The ISS will show up twice on April 9, first rising in the N at 8 PM, and skimming low over our mountains to set in the ENE at 8:04 PM below the bright orange star Arcturus, the Guardian of the Bear. It will pop up again at 9:36 PM in the NW and climb toward Capella, the bright yellow star in Auriga the Charioteer in the WNW, but will fade out at 8:37 PM before reaching it.
The brightest pass of this sequence will start at 8:43 PM in the NW on Tuesday, slipping between Cassiopeia and Perseus, through the very dim constellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe, past the end of the bowl of the Big Dipper, and then fading away in the E at 8:47 PM in the sprinkle of stars above the tail of Leo which mark the small constellation Coma Berenices.
Wednesday will have two passes, starting at 7:51 PM in the NNW and flying along the bowl of the Little Dipper, then the end of the handle of the Big Dipper, and disappearing in the E at 7:57 PM near the bright star Spica. On its next orbit, the ISS will rise in the WNW at 9:28 PM, cruise below orange Aldebaran, trace the Belt of Orion, then fade out at 9:30 PM in the WSW.
On Thursday, the space station will rise in the WNW at 8:35 PM, pass above brilliant Venus, just above the dim head of Orion, between the bright stars Procyon and Sirius which mark Orion's two hunting dogs, and into shadow at 8:40 PM in the SSE.
The last visible evening pass until the third week in May will rise on Saturday, April 14, at 8:27 PM in the W, float low by Venus, then below Orion's feet and Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, to set low in the S at 8:32 PM. If the sky is clear, drop by the free monthly Public Star Party, held on the second Saturday of each month at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History!