Decent weather and the sun's position mean that the people of Washington should be able to see the huge spaceship.
Few people visit the International Space Station, but the next two weeks are an excellent window of vision for people in Washington and much of the Western United States who would like to look at the mbadive spacecraft as it flies overhead.
In early June, the ISS will be transiting the night sky over Seattle and the Pacific Northwest on multiple occasions, and thanks to a combination of decent weather and the seasonal footprint of the sun, even people in western Washington should have many opportunities to participate in the show.
"This year we were lucky that it worked well," said John McLaren. , president of the Seattle Astronomical Society. "In some years, this does not happen."
The ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, and its path transports it over the Pacific Northwest and most other places on the planet, several times a day. But the inhabitants of the Earth can only see the station when it is dark on the ground where they are and sunny 250 miles up, where the station is.
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Then when the ISS went through his house in Kent at 11:17 p.m. On Tuesday, even though it was dark on the ground, the sun's rays were just right to be reflected in the spacecraft – which has only a few small external lights – and make it visible.
At this time of year, these conditions persist throughout the night.
"Normally, you may be able to see it for one pbad per night or maybe two," McLaren said. "What's really unusual here is that we're having nights when we can see four or five pbades in one night."
McLaren filmed a one-minute exposure photo of his yard that shows the station as a bright streak, like a giant Meteor. Looking at it with the naked eye, it looks like an extremely bright satellite, moving very fast.
"You look around and suddenly you see that this thing resonates in the sky," said Seattle Astronomical Society member David Ingram, who traced the station's trajectory on Tuesday night. "It's pretty spectacular when it's almost 300 miles above our heads and the sun is still shining while we're down in the dark."
The reflected light makes the space station one of the brightest in the night sky, on par with the planet Jupiter. And that means it's visible from virtually anywhere.
"That's the beauty," Ingram said. "You could see it from downtown Seattle."
With the space station that pbades over the area every 90 minutes, the spectators can look at their taste. Each transit lasts between three and six minutes.
You can enter your location on several websites to find a list of transit start times and in the sky to focus your attention. One of the easiest to use is NASA's Spot the Station website (https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/home.cfm)
Another source is Heavens-Above.com.
For Seattle, the promising time windows include: Wednesday, May 23 at 10:25 p.m .; Thursday, May 24, 9:33 p.m. and 11:10 p.m .; and Friday, May 25, 10:17 p.m. and 11:54 p.m.
The track changes slightly every night. In general, for the Puget Sound area, the station will appear somewhere in the west and move east. Sometimes, the bright spot fades away as it moves towards the shadow of the Earth.
With the binoculars, and a firm hand, it is possible to distinguish some features of the station, Ingram said. Even better is a telescope, which can provide much more detailed views.
A resident of the Seattle area has spent time on the International Space Station, twice. Former Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi paid $ 25 million for a 14-day stay in 2007. He liked it so much he returned in 2009.
Six astronauts and cosmonauts are currently on board for the station's 55th expedition, which includes studies of thunder and lightning and the effects of microgravity on the bone marrow. On Thursday, the crew is expected to meet with the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft, launched on Monday.
The payload includes an independent experiment by researchers at Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to study plant growth and metabolism in zero gravity, in the hope of helping future astronauts to grow plants to obtain food and energy.
WSU scientists are also collaborating on a second experiment carried by the Cygnus spacecraft, designed to study clouds of atoms in cooler temperatures than anything on Earth.