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Spectacular space station flybys

Posted by Richard on November 27, 2009

Those of us in the know were treated to a rare and spectacular celestial event Thanksgiving evening. At 6:12 pm, the International Space Station appeared brightly in the WNW sky, followed 30 seconds later by the somewhat dimmer space shuttle Atlantis. The pair crossed to the southeastern horizon in about two minutes — they were really moving! Tonight, the ISS provided an even better solo performance (Atlantis had already returned to Earth), appearing even brighter and much higher in the sky. It passed very close to the moon, which was quite a sight.

So, how did I know when and where to look? Spaceweather.com. Click Satellite Flybys in the right sidebar, enter your ZIP code, and they'll show you a schedule for the ISS and several satellites. The latter are significantly less bright (and less interesting, at least to me), and probably hard to spot from a metro area. But the ISS is intensely bright. Tonight's flyby was at 5 pm, with still a fair amount of light in the sky, but it shone so brightly that that was not a problem.

I also like to check out the great celestial photos at Spaceweather.com. The last three days featured photos of the ISS-Atlantis duo. At other times, they have aurora borealis shots, sun dogs, and other cool stuff. Pick some dates from the archives (right sidebar) and see what turns up.

And of course, Spaceweather.com is where I keep up with current sunspot activity as we continue an unusually long and deep trough between solar cycles 23 and 24. In fact, NASA has acknowledged that we may be heading into a repeat of the Dalton Minimum (1790-1830, toward the end of the Little Ice Age).

Let's hope it's not a Maunder Minimum — that one lasted over half a century (1645-1715) and coincided with the depths of the Little Ice Age, when the Thames frequently froze over so solidly that a commercial district sprung up on it.

But we shouldn't worry about prolonged cooling. Al Gore and the climatologists charlatans at Hadley CRU have assured us that it's going to get hotter. They have computer models that "prove" the empirical data showing a cooling trend since 1998 are wrong. And they've carefully analyzed manipulated the data to show that there really was no medieval warm period.

So pay no heed to the fact that a graph that mirrors solar activity over the past 1000 years seems to closely match global temperature variations over the same period. <snark>Your SUV and lawn mower are much more powerful factors than a little thing like the sun.</snark>

UPDATE: If you want more info about the Climategate scandal, check out the links in the comments at this post.

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One Response to “Spectacular space station flybys”

  1. […] Space Station (ISS) on the Satellite Flybys page. That’s how I was able to watch the spectacular flyby of the ISS being chased across the sky by the shuttle Atlantis. But I got out of the habit of […]

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