May ISS and Lunar Eclipse
By Chuck McPartlin
The International Space Station will be making a few visible passes through Santa Barbara’s skies in May, weather permitting. Its orbit may change from time to time, and I'm only listing fairly bright evening passes, so to get the latest and most complete predictions, visit Heavens Above.
On Saturday, May 14, for the SBMNH Monthly Star Party, the station will make a bright pass starting in the WSW at 9:11 PM PDT, rising S of Sirius, and flying through Cancer into the forequarters of Ursa Major, then through the bowl of the Little Dipper and into Draco, setting in the NE at 9:17 PM.
Sunday's pass will be the best and brightest, and occur during the total lunar eclipse, appearing at 8:22 PM in the SW in Puppis, going S of orange Alphard, the heart of Hydra, then near Denebola, the tail of Leo, through Coma Berenices and the head of Boötes and the legs of Hercules to disappear in the NE at 8:29 PM.
On Monday, the ISS will rise at 9:11 PM in the W, near ruddy Betelgeuse, and pass over our mountain horizon to set at 9:17 PM in the NNE, by Deneb.
It will appear in the WSW at 8:22 PM on Tuesday, going between Sirius and Orion, through the feet of Gemini and near bright yellow Capella and below Polaris to vanish in the NNE at 8:28 PM.
There will be several dim ISS passes between May 18 and May 29, when it will make a decent pass from NNW to NE at 10:02 PM.
On Tuesday, May 31, the station will make a bright pass starting at 10:01 PM in the NW, climbing from Gemini along the back of Leo, and vanishing in the Earth's shadow while still high in the sky above Denebola, the lion's tail.
On June 1, it will be equally bright, rising in the NW at 9:13 PM near Capella, passing along the back of Ursa Major, through the head of Boötes, and into Ophiuchus where it will fade away in the ESE at 9:18 PM.
The ISS will make some dim passes on June 2, 3, and 5, and then transition into our early morning skies until the second week in July.
Total Lunar Eclipse
When a Full Moon phase occurs when the Moon is near an orbital node, where the plane of its orbit intersects the Earth's orbital plane, the Earth's shadow is cast on the surface of the Moon, and we experience a lunar eclipse. The ancient Greeks realized that the shape of the Earth's shadow during an eclipse was consistent with a spherical Earth.
The umbral phases of the total lunar eclipse on May 15 will be visible from Santa Barbara starting with moonrise already partially eclipsed at 7:47 PM. Totality starts at 8:28 PM, and greatest eclipse will be at 9:11 PM. Totality will end at 9:54 PM, and the partial phase will end at 10:55 PM. The dim penumbral phase will end at 11:51 PM.
The Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit will be set up at the Camino Real Marketplace, in the plaza by the theater, from 7 PM to 10 PM for viewing the eclipse: https://www.edhat.com/event/total-lunar-eclipse-viewing.
Hasta nebula - Chuck