WASHINGTON, October 30, 2013 — Residents of Silver Spring, Md will be able to view the International Space Station (ISS) in the night skies this week according to NASA. The space station will be visible for six minutes on 10/28, two minutes on 10/29, and then for three minutes on 10/30.
As a unique treat for fans, Colonel Chris Hadfield, former commander of the International Space Station will be at the National Air and Space Museum on Saturday November 2, 2013 from 2 to 5pm for a book signing. Col. Hadfield gained fame after being one of the first astronauts to use Facebook and Twitter to post pictures of the space mission, gaining thousands of followers in the process. No stranger to the internet, Col. Hadfield announced his book signing on the popular website Reddit.
NASA maintains a website dedicated towards informing the public about when spacecraft are visible to the public on its webpage at http://spotthestation.nasa.gov. The webpage contains exact timings for space station visibility, and instructs visitors on where to look in the sky, and in which direction the celestial objects will be travelling. Embracing social media, the page features Facebook and Twitter buttons to allow people to share the information amongst their own circle of friends.
NASA has published the following Space Station visibility information for Silver Spring:
|Mon Oct 28, 7:03 PM||6 min||82°||10 above NW||12 above SE|
|Tue Oct 29, 7:54 PM||2 min||14°||14 above WSW||10 above SSW|
|Wed Oct 30, 7:06 PM||3 min||25°||25 above SW||10 above S|
The ability to see the International Space Station and resupply vehicles is not the only astronomical phenomena taking place this week. On Sunday November 3rd, the Washington Metropolitan area will get to see a rare partial solar eclipse in the early hours of the morning. According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the eclipse will begin at 6:38am on Sunday and conclude by 7:10am (at least in the Washington D.C. area).
The month of November will feature several showings of nearby planets, including Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. Right after Thanksgiving, the ISON Comet may be visible, named after the Russian International Scientific Optical Network.
Last week featured an unusual eruption of two solar flares (a type of coronal mass ejection or “CME”) from the Sun, resulting in temporary radio blackouts for some. The effects were minor, as the eruptions took place at approximately 4am EST, however more solar events are expected.
“The sun is in the peak year of its current 11-year activity cycle, which is known as Solar Cycle 24. The number of sunspots increases during a solar maximum, leading to more flares and CMEs, which erupt from these temporary dark (and relatively cool) patches on our star,” says NBC News.
Capitalizing on the month of celestial viewings is the Montgomery College Planetarium in Takoma Park, which will hold events to educate the public on the science of astronomy, including a November 16 event on black holes, gravity, and “space-time.”
In addition to the space station, ATV4 and CYGNUS, which are resupplying vehicles for the ISS will also be visible for short periods of time.
The full name of ATV4 is Albert Einstein Automated Transfer Vehicle 004, and is a European vessel named after the famed physicist. Its purpose is to deliver “equipment, fuel, food, water and air to the crew of the International Space Station (ISS),” according to Astrium, a well-known European space agency.
CYGNUS is an unmanned resupply spacecraft created by NASA and has nearly triple the capacity of ATV4. The details of what CYGNUS carries have not been released to the public.