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Take A Quick Time Out

Today is the last ride for the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The craft was first launched 25 years ago, and has become the workhorse of the remaining shuttle fleet.

For the next few days, at certain places and at certain times, you can actually see the shuttle and its reflection off the sun as it catches up to the International Space Station.

It will look like a bright star moving across the sky in a straight line, lasting between 1-3 minutes.

(When I used to do astro-photography, on most any night, photographing almost any object, at least one of my shots would contain the trail of a satellite streaking through my field of view.)

If you are lucky, you can also see the International Space Station streak through the night sky.

Here is a photo taken with an amateur telescope and an astrophoto set-up of a Shuttle docking with the Space Station. (Unfortunately, I don't know whose photo it is, but I have seen many of these taken with simple backyard set-ups.)

shuttle-mask.jpg

I always thought that was pretty neat.

Obviously, this is not what you will see when you are looking with the naked eye, but it is still pretty fascinating to catch a glimpse of one of these shooting by, knowing what it is, and thinking that there are people in that little machine traveling at 17,900mph.

If you are interested, here is a site which lets you pick your location, and pin-points the time the Shuttle will be seen in your area.


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Comments (7)

On a good night the shuttle... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

On a good night the shuttle can be seen going across the sky from low west to high east. It does move quickly and if it's low on the horizon its tough to see.

It looks like an elongated shiny dash mark but if you have a good set of binoculars and can pick it up you'll be able to make out the station and the solar panel array's.

One of your last chances to see this to.
I have seen the shuttle chasing the station, kinda wish I had a good video camera to capture it.

I saw something going acros... (Below threshold)
914:

I saw something going across the sky the other night around 11:30 pm, it lasted a couple minutes then when it passed over me it vanished from sight, no more sunlight. I dont know if it was the shuttle but was traveling west to southeast. Wish I had a telescope to catch these things as they are cool to see. Remember hale bop? That was awesome, everynight from about 1 to 4:30am I would watch it go from east to west through the night and this lasted a few months. Good thing I was working overnights and could wander out and view it. Fascinating.

The shuttle will be going u... (Below threshold)
Cindermutha:

The shuttle will be going up when I pick up the kids. We'll watch it from the park. Everyone in the neighborhood runs outside to watch every time it goes up.

When I owned all my astrono... (Below threshold)
Shawn:

When I owned all my astronomy equipment, I would stay out all night in 5 degree weather to photograph objects that are billions of miles away.

The light that would be captured on the camera sensor would be light which left the object thousands or millions of years ago, finally making it to Earth.

I'd take maybe 30 shots of the same spot in the sky, with long camera exposures (sometimes 10 minutes long), then "stack" them together with a special program. Like magic, the shots would combine together to produce enough photographic information, and an image would materialize.

Most of the images taken with Hubble are snapshots of how these objects looked even before humans existed.

It is all very mind blowing and difficult to comprehend sometimes.

But it is absolutely fascinating.

-Shawn

Here's another site to get ... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Here's another site to get local fly-by information , all you need to do is fill in your zip code.

The Upset Old Lady and I have seen seen the shuttle chasing down the ISS as well as the ISS with a shuttle docked. It's quite the sight to see. We'll be outside just after 9:00 tonight to see the show again.

Oh crap! What happened to t... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Oh crap! What happened to the url? Trying again.

http://spaceweather.com/flybys/

I can usually see Shuttle l... (Below threshold)
cirby:

I can usually see Shuttle launches from my front yard in Orlando (clouds permitting). It's 40-50 miles away.

With my cheap binoculars, I can track it well past the point where the solid rocket boosters drop off.




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