Equinox Space Station

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By Chuck McPartlin

The International Space Station will be making evening passes through Santa Barbara’s evening skies for the week leading up to the Autumnal Equinox. Its orbit may change from time to time, so to get the latest and most complete predictions, visit Heavens Above.

On Monday, September 14, the space station will make a low pass over our ocean horizon, appearing in the S at 8:16 PM PDT under the stinger of Scorpius, passing under bright Jupiter and Saturn, and disappearing in the SSE just as it reaches Capricornus at 8:18 PM.

Tuesday's first pass will start at 7:30 PM in the SSE and skim very low over the ocean to disappear at 7:34 PM below the Great Square of Pegasus in the E. On its next orbit, it will pop up in the WSW at 9:05 PM in the head of Scorpius, climbing toward Corona Borealis, but vanishing into our shadow just before reaching it in the W at 9:07 PM.

On Wednesday, the ISS will make its best and brightest showing in this sequence, rising at 8:17 PM in the SW, in the head of Scorpius, and passing nearly overhead along the side of Ophiuchus and very close to bright Vega in Lyra, then fading out just before reaching Cassiopeia in the NE at 8:23 PM.

Thursday we'll again see the space station twice. At 7:30 PM, it will rise in the SSW in the middle of Scorpius, cruise over Jupiter and Saturn, south of the Summer Triangle, and along the Great Square of Pegasus to set at 7:37 in Andromeda in the ENE. It will return at 9:08 PM in the NNW, passing by orange Arcturus, and disappearing just over the bowl of the Big Dipper in the NNW at 9:11 PM.

On Friday, the ISS will make a slightly higher and longer version of Thursday's second trajectory, starting in the W at 8:20 PM, and setting in the NNE at 8:26 PM near the rising Perseus.

Saturday's pass will be longer, higher, and brighter, starting at 7:32 PM in the WSW, and ending at 7:38 PM in the NE.

For Sunday, the ISS will skim very low over our mountain horizon, appearing in the NW at 8:24 PM, and disappearing in the N, below the bowl of the Big Dipper, at 8:26 PM.

On Monday, the ISS will trace out a longer, slightly higher, and brighter version of Sunday's path, rising in the WNW at 7:35 PM, and setting in the NNE at 7:39 PM.

The Autumnal Equinox for the Northern Hemisphere will occur at 6:31 AM PDT on Tuesday, September 22, marking the official end of our Summer. The Sun is on the celestial equator, and will rise directly East, and set directly West.

Pegasus, the Flying Horse, is now rising up in the East, leaping from the northern edge of the great ocean in the sky. Andromeda is chained at the shoreline, which means that views of the Andromeda Galaxy are not far behind. The Great Bikini Bottom in the sky, Capricornus the Sea Goat, half goat and half fish, marks the opposite shore to the South. Between them, the constellations are all associated with water, since in ancient Mesopotamia when these constellations were being dreamed up, it was their rainy season and the Sun was entering this area of sky. In the ensuing centuries, precession has moved the apparent path of the Sun, but the watery sky remains.

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