By Chuck McPartlin
The International Space Station will be making some nice visible evening passes through Santa Barbara skies in early August, weather permitting. Its orbit can change a little, and I'm only mentioning the brightest passes, so to get the complete and most recent predictions, visit Heavens Above.
On Wednesday, July 31, the ISS will rise in the NNW at 10:25 PM PDT and make a low pass over our mountains to fade out below Polaris, the North Star, at 10:26 PM.
On Thursday, it will make a slightly higher, but otherwise similar pass, rising in the N at 9:36 PM, and disappearing in the NE at 9:39 PM.
Friday will have two showings. The first will be similar to Thursday's pass, starting at 8:47 PM in the N, and fading out in the NE at 8:49 PM. On its next orbit, the station will appear at 10:22 PM in the NW, and pop up into the bowl of the Big Dipper, to vanish in the Earth's shadow at 10:24 PM.
On Saturday, August 3, the ISS will rise at 9:33 PM in the NNW, pass below Polaris, and disappear in the ENE at 9:36 PM.
There will be two passes on Sunday, with the first starting at 8:44 PM in the NNW, passing low over the mountains, and fading out in the neck of Pegasus at 8:49 PM in the E. Then it will reappear at 10:20 PM to pop up in the WNW, and disappear in the W below bright orange Arcturus at 10:22 PM.
Monday's pass will be the brightest, rising at 9:31 PM in the NW, passing through the feet of Ursa Major, through the Ice Cream Cone asterism of Boötes, the Herdsman, and disappearing in the S by the head of Ophiuchus, above brilliant Jupiter, at 9:34 PM.
Tuesday's ISS will also be quite bright, starting in the NW at 8:41 PM, cruising through the bowl of the Little Dipper, through the large Summer Triangle asterism of Vega, Deneb, and Altair, and then fading away in the ESE at 8:47 PM.
On Wednesday, the station will rise in the W at 9:29 PM, and sail low by Denebola, the tail of Leo, past blue Spica and the Moon, and set below the head of Scorpius on our ocean horizon in the SSW at 9:33 PM.
Thursday's pass will be higher and brighter, starting at 8:39 PM in the WNW, going below the Moon and bright Jupiter, and vanishing below Saturn in the SSE at 8:45 PM.
Saturday, August 10, will be the last pass of this sequence, rising in the W at 8:38 PM, passing very low to set in the SSW at 8:41 PM.
The gas giant planets Jupiter and Saturn and their many moons are putting on a good show in our southern skies right now. Come on out to one of the free public telescope nights hosted the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit in August. You can find our schedule at www.sbau.org, and our three main events each month are in the Edhat Events Calendar.