June Space Station
by Chuck McParlin
The International Space Station will be making some nice visible evening passes above Santa Barbara in the next week or so, if the June gloom lifts. With keen eyes or binoculars, you may also be able to spot a line of 60 small Starlink satellites that were just launched by SpaceX. Get predictions and updates at Heavens-Above.
The Starlink satellites, with a planned population of 12,000 (!) are going to cause a lot of problems for astronomers, both professionals and amateurs, and especially astrophotographers. If these (and other planned) internet mini-sats are not managed carefully, they may also pose a collision threat to future space missions.
On Saturday, June 1, the ISS will pop up at 10:51 PM PDT in the NW, and climb to the nose of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, to disappear in the Earth's shadow at an altitude of 27 degrees at 10:53 PM in the NNW.
The station will rise in the NNW at 10:02 PM on Sunday and pass along our mountain horizon to vanish at 10:05 PM in the NE just before reaching the line between bright Vega and Deneb of the Summer Triangle.
On Monday, it will first appear in the NNW at 9:13 PM, and pass very low over the mountains to set in the ENE at 9:17 PM, well past Deneb and Vega. Then, on its next orbit, it will pop up at 10:49 PM in the WNW, and climb to the top of Leo's head to vanish in our shadow at 10:50 PM.
Tuesday's pass will be the brightest, rising at 9:59 PM in the NW and passing through the feet of Ursa Major to vanish when nearly overhead by bright orange Arcturus, the Guardian of the Bear, at 10:02 PM.
Wednesday the ISS will rise at 9:10 PM in the NW by low, bright Capella, skim through the bowl of the Little Dipper, through the Keystone asterism of Hercules, and fade out in the middle of Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, at 9:15 PM in the ESE, toward where bright Jupiter has just risen.
On Thursday, D-Day June 6, the station will start in the WNW at 9:57 PM in Gemini, cruise below the crescent Moon and along the long body of Hydra, the Sea Snake to fade away in the SW at 10 PM just before reaching the shopping cart asterism of Corvus, the Crow.
Friday's pass will start at 9:07 PM in the WNW, pass between Pollux and Castor, the heads of Gemini, above the crescent Moon, near Regulus, the heart of Leo, between Corvus and bright Spica, and set in dim Lupus, the Wolf, at 9:13 PM low in the SSE.
The last pass of this sequence will be on June 9, Sunday night, when the ISS will appear at 9:05 PM in the W, pass low below Castor and Pollux and by the dim sparks that are Mars and Mercury, above Procyon, and below Hydra to dim Centaurus in the SSW, where it will set at 9:09 PM.
To round out June, there will be some early morning passes, but the ISS will not return to our evening skies until the middle of July.