May Gray ISS

The International Space Station photographed by Expedition 56 crew members from a Soyuz spacecraft after undocking. (Photo: NASA/Roscosmos)

Marine layer permitting, there will be a few visible evening passes by the International Space Station through Santa Barbara’s skies in early May. Its orbit may change, so to get the latest and most complete predictions, and the predawn appearances in this sequence, visit Heavens Above.

On Thursday, May 9, the ISS will make its best and brightest appearance of this sequence, rising in the SW at 9:30 PM PDT, passing by Alphard, the reddish heart of Hydra the Sea Serpent, then Regulus, the heart of Leo the Lion, and high overhead to Alkaid, the end of the tail of Ursa Major, then down to the Lozenge asterism that forms the head of Draco the Dragon, where it will fade away at 9:35 PM in the NE.

On Friday, we’ll get two passes. The first will begin at 8:41 PM in the SSW above Vela the Sails, then by Corvus the Crow, Spica in Virgo, below orange Arcturus, and into shadow at 8:47 PM south of bright Vega, the star of the movie Contact. The station will return on its next orbit at 10:18 PM in the WNW, in the feet of Gemini, go above the Moon and bright yellowish Capella, then below Deneb to set in the NNE at 10:23 PM.

Saturday’s pass will be similar, rising at 9:28 PM in the W, sailing below the Moon and above Deneb to set in the NNE at 9:34 PM.

On Sunday, the station will make a bright pass starting in the WSW by bright Sirius at 8:38 PM, cruising between Castor and Pollux, the heads of Gemini by the Moon, past the end of the bowl of the Little Dipper asterism, and ending at 8:45 PM in the NE by Vega.

Monday’s pass will be dim and low over our mountain horizon, from 9:27 PM in the WNW, ending in the N at 9:31 PM.

The station will end this sequence with a higher repeat, starting in the W at 8:37 PM in the belt of Orion, and passing below Capella to set in the NNE at 8:42 PM.

The ISS will return in the third week of May for a long series of evening passes. And don’t forget International Astronomy Day on Saturday, May 18, at the Camino Real Marketplace – see the Edhat Events Calendar for details.

Hasta nebula,


Written by macpuzl

Outreach Coordinator for the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit

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