May's International Space Station Views
By Chuck McPartlin
The Sun's daily trajectory is now well to the North, which means that the International Space Station will be illuminated even during late night passes above Santa Barbara as it circles the Earth every 90 minutes or so. This sequence will last into the second week of June, but I'll break it up into two reports, since orbital adjustments in the interim may make the later predictions less accurate. There will also be some bright morning appearances that you early birds can find at Heavens-Above.
On Thursday, May 16, the ISS will make a brief pop-up, starting at 9:38 PM PDT in the SW, climbing to an altitude of 23 degrees before vanishing in our shadow at 9:39 PM in the SSW.
Friday the space station will first make a bright pass rising at 8:47 PM in the SSW below Corvus, the Crow, sailing between the Moon and Spica, and setting in the ENE below the bright star Vega at 8:53 PM. Corvus looks more like a mast and sail, as Polynesian societies saw it, and in the modern consumer society it has been likened to a shopping cart. The ISS will reappear at 10:24 PM in the W near Procyon, pass by Pollux and Castor in Gemini, and vanish in the NNE at 10:29 PM below Deneb, the tail of the Swan.
On Saturday, May 18, the ISS will make a higher and brighter repeat of that trajectory, starting in the WSW at 9:32 PM, and ending in the NNE at 9:38 PM.
The highest and brightest pass will occur on Sunday, rising at 8:41 PM in the SW, and passing high overhead through the Sickle of Leo and the handle of the Big Dipper to set at 8:48 PM in the NE near Vega. Vega is also the movie star from "Contact". The ISS will make an encore appearance at 10:20 PM, much lower and dimmer over our mountains, from the NW to N, where it will disappear at 10:23 PM.
On Monday, the space station will make a low pass over our mountains, starting at 9:28 PM in the WNW, and ending at 9:33 PM in the NNE.
On Tuesday, May 21, it will repeat that path a bit higher in the sky, rising at 8:36 PM in the W near Sirius, passing by the feet of Gemini and the dim red glow of Mars, and then above bright Capella to set at 8:42 PM in the NNE by Vega.
The ISS will make very low and short passes, or brief pop-ups, some quite late, on the evenings of May 23, May 27, and May 29-31 before returning for another series of nice passes in early June. Stay tuned.