ISS for Mid-May
By Chuck McPartlin
The International Space Station will make several visible evening passes through Santa Barbara’s skies over the next week. This series is interleaved with several good morning passes, too. I've only listed the best evening appearances, and its orbit can change at times, so to get the latest and most complete predictions, visit Heavens Above.
On Thursday, May 14, a bright overhead ISS pass will start in the SW at 9:43 PM PDT, and cruise by lonely Alphard, the dim reddish heart of Hydra, the Sea Serpent. Then it will go past the Sickle of Leo with his bright heart, Regulus. After passing between the stars at the end of the handle of the Big Dipper, it will fade into the Earth's shadow in the NE at 9:47 PM. This will be the best and brightest pass of this sequence.
On Friday we'll get two passes. The first will rise at 8:55 PM in the SSW, pass by the sail-shape of Corvus, the Crow, then Spica in Virgo and orange Arcturus in Boötes, the Herdsman, and finally by the Keystone in Hercules to set in the ENE at 9:01 PM. On its next orbit, it will appear at 10:33 PM in the WNW and pass low above our mountains to set at 10:37 PM in the NNE.
Saturday's pass will begin at 9:44 PM in the W and follow a slightly higher path than the second Friday pass, ending at 9:50 PM in the NNE.
On Sunday, May 17, the station will rise in the WSW at 8:56 PM, pass above bright Sirius and below Procyon, then between Castor and Pollux, the heads of Gemini, the Twins. It will cruise just above dim Polaris, the North Star, before fading away in the NE at 9:02 PM.
Monday's pass will be dim and very low over our mountains, starting at 9:47 PM in the NW, and ending at 9:50 PM in the N.
The last evening pass of this sequence will be on Tuesday, a slightly brighter and higher pass from the WNW at 8:58 PM to the NNE at 9:03 PM.
At sunset on Thursday, May 21, look to the W to see brilliant Venus, with Mercury a bright speck just a pinkie finger's width at arm's length below and slightly left of Venus. Through binoculars, Venus will be a beautiful thin crescent. Copernicus never saw Mercury.
Coming up on May 26, the ISS will be back for an impressive 12 straight days of evening appearances.