The ISS Returns

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

Assuming clear weather, the International Space Station will be making visible passes through Santa Barbara’s evening skies. Its orbit may change, and these are just the best evening appearances, so to get the latest and most complete predictions visit Heavens Above <>

On Monday, January 29, the ISS will make a very low pass over our mountains, from N to NNW, starting at 6:26 PM PST in Draco’s head, and cruising into the bowl of the Big Dipper, where it will fade out at 6:27 PM.

The station will have a low pop up on Tuesday at 7:13 PM in the NW, in Cygnus, ending in Draco a minute later.

Wednesday’s pass will rise in the NNW at 6:24 PM in Draco, pass through the bowl of the Little Dipper, then through the neck and along the foreleg of Ursa Major, and fade out in dim Lynx in the ENE at 6:28 PM.

On February 1, we’ll get a bright pass starting in the WNW in Cygnus at 7:12 PM, going through the Great Square of Pegasus, and vanishing into our shadow at 7:15 PM in dim Pisces, near the brilliant giant planet Jupiter, in the SW.

The best and brightest pass of this sequence will rise on Groundhog Day at 6:23 PM in the NW, soaring high overhead from Cygnus to Cassiopeia, through Perseus into the horns of Taurus, and then past the bright reddish Betelgeuse to set in the SE at 6:30 PM near the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. Sirius is not intrinsically very bright, but it is the closest star (besides the Sun) that you can see from Santa Barbara without a telescope, at just under 9 light years away. And if you’re using it to find North, you’re going in Siriusly the wrong direction.

On Saturday, the station will make a low, fairly dim pass from W to SSW, starting at 7:12 PM in Pegasus, past the star Deneb Kaitos, and ending in Eridanus, below Orion, at 7:16 PM.

Sunday’s pass will be a higher and brighter repeat, rising at 6:23 PM in Cygnus in the WNW, then through the neck of Pegasus and the dim Circlet of Pisces, through Cetus and into Eridanus in the SSE at 6:29 PM.

The ISS will then transition into our predawn skies until the second week of March.


Written by macpuzl

Outreach Coordinator for the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit

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