Space Station and Planets Galore!

Written by The Night Sky Guy on June 23, 2012 – 6:00 pm -

Next couple of night are great for spotting the International Space Station making flyovers right across North America. Best of all you don’t need a telescope or binoculars to see it – and you don’t have to be in the dark countryside either. You can watch it glide over your driveway or backyard even in big cities! How cool is that?

You can go to my Sky Tonight page and scroll down to the city links to get your personal viewing timetable OR you can go to spaceweather.com and enter your zip code or postal code and you can generate your timetable.  It’s as easy as that.

And if that ain’t enough… here is this week’s Night Sky episode too…now all you need are some clear skies and you are set ;-)

Don’t forget you can always get late-breaking, instant stargazing news anytime by joining my fanpage on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or get email alerts sent directly to your inbox


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Posted in Planets, Solar System, The Moon | Comments Off

Space Station Flyby Alert

Written by The Night Sky Guy on January 8, 2010 – 4:27 pm -

All this weekend and throughout next week try and grab the next clear night and head outside to watch the International Space Station zip across your skies above. If you are lucky you may even be able to catch it twice in one night! This is one skywatching event you don’t need binoculars or telescopes to enjoy. If you have never seen it before this will be a great opportunity because the orbiting labs trajectory will take it up very high in the sky making it easy to see above buildings and trees. Also making it a grand sight is that construction is so near completion that the station is about as big as a football field so that it is very reflective to sunlight, making it superbright in the sky. Just look for abright white star glide across the starry sky in a out 2 to 4 minutes. Remeber that this satellite – with a crew of 6 astronauts - is traveling about 27,000 km per hour at 400 km above our heads.  It takes it only 90 minutes to make once orbit around our planet. When and where to watch?

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Click on the Space Station icon on the right-hand sidebar or go to my Sky Tonight page and click on your city of choice or choose Elsewhere, and get your customized viewing table.  For an explanation of how to read your viewing timetable chart click on the image to the left. It is a sample chart for Toronto that gives you a brief rundown on what the main sections mean. Just click on the Space Station Icon on the right-sidebar and click on you city listed or click elsewhere. The ISS will be best place for anyone living in North America so enjoy the show!

What will it look like? Check out a photo I took late last fall of the station trailing above my suburban driveway.


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Posted in Satellites | 142 Comments »

Space Station Flybys

Written by The Night Sky Guy on November 9, 2009 – 3:34 pm -

Skywatchers across North America this week are getting a front row seat to watch the International Space Station make some spectacular passes in the early evening skies. Check out my snapshot I took last night while in a forest, Monday in Ste. Marguerite, about 45 minutes NW of Montreal. The ISS flew about 25 degrees above the SW horizon at 6:16 pm. The 45 second exposure photo shows the station produce a trail between the trees. The bright ’star’ above the ISS streak is actually the planet Jupiter, which is dominating the SW evening sky these days. You can see from this photo that you really don’t even need to be in a field with totally open skies to see the station – it is just so bright in the sky now. So I guess I proved that yes you can see spaceships through the trees  ;-)
Canon 450D, f/4.5, ASA 1600, 45 sec.

Canon 450D, f/4.5, ISO 800, 45 sec.; click image to enlarge

If you want to know when and where to see the station tonight, then go to my Sky Tonight page and click on your location to get your table of predictions.

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Posted in Satellites, Space Exploration | 299 Comments »

Is there a Future for Space Tourism?

Written by The Night Sky Guy on June 4, 2009 – 7:00 am -

After much speculation yesterday Cirque du Soleil spokesperson confirmed that the company’s founder Guy Laliberte will be the 7th space tourist and 1st paying Canadian space traveler in history when he blasts off in September aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. Paying something in the order of 25 to 30 million U.S., he will have the privilege of staying aboard the International Space Station for over a week enjoying the best view in town.  To go into space, besides having a fat wallet,  he had to meet many physical and psychological requirements to be allowed to go to the ISS. He will also have to take part in the maintenance of the station and help conduct science and educational programs while aboard.

But the question a lot of folks are asking today though, is space tourism just a fad for the uber-rich or is this something the average person can one day have a chance to experience. I think this depends on how the next decade really pans out for the handful of companies around the world now racing to build the first generation paid-passenger carrying rocketships. If they manage to sell all their seats and don’t have any fatal accidents I think the industry could have a chance to grow. Yes, the initial price tags will be out of this world – Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is offering 2.5 hour sub-orbital flights starting in a couple of years at about $250,000 U.S. – but these prices I think will start dropping as more and more people live out their dreams of being in space. Branson already has 200 seats pre-paid. There are some start-up companies that are saying they would like to see the price tag go down to around $50,000 for a sub-orbital flight – that’s around the price of a cheap sports car. So hopefully as more and more people do go up, the industry will open up just as it did with commercial jet flying in the last century.   As the old saying goes – no bucks, no Buck Rogers!

I would like to hear your thoughts… If you had the money would you buy a ticket to the space station?


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Posted in Space Exploration, Uncategorized | 136 Comments »

Canadian Blasts Off!

Written by The Night Sky Guy on May 27, 2009 – 10:11 am -

Canadian veteran astronaut Bob Thirsk and his two fellow crew-members rocketed into Earth orbit successfully this morning aboard the Soyuz spacecraft. Thirsk is the first Canadian to spend 6 months in space and will be part of the first 6 man crew on the International Space Station when he arrives to dock with the lab on Friday morning. He is going to have a packed schedule while onboard, acting as chief medical officer, being in charge of robotic operations of Canadarm2, and will be responsible for the Japanese science module Kibo.

During this mission, the crew of Expedition 20/21 will devote hours to scientific research making full use of the station’s state-of-the-art laboratory facilities. Thirsk will conduct Canadian-led experiments that could lead to results for people who experience balance and movement control disorders, elderly people suffering from dizziness and fainting spells, or those afflicted with heart disease caused by a sedentary lifestyle.

“This is an incredible milestone for the Canadian Space Program,” said Steve MacLean, President of the CSA and a former Canadian astronaut. “Canada has a very strong track record when it comes to space science and space technology. The science performed will benefit all Canadians.”

For the latest information on Thirsk’s mission check out the Canadian Space Agency’s cool webpage filled with pix and videos.

Here is a short media report on the launch this morning…


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Posted in Space Exploration, Uncategorized | 105 Comments »