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MailTribune.com
  • Spotting the space station

  • What's going on with the International Space Station "station sightings" website process? In the good ole days, one could simply log on to NASA and with a couple of clicks get a list of times to stand outside on a clear night and watch the station pass. Now you must provide an email address, wait for a registration code, and ...
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  • What's going on with the International Space Station "station sightings" website process? In the good ole days, one could simply log on to NASA and with a couple of clicks get a list of times to stand outside on a clear night and watch the station pass. Now you must provide an email address, wait for a registration code, and you still can't get the list of times to watch for the station. Is the TSA involved? I don't want a boarding pass, I'd just like to watch the station pass by. Any idea what's up?
    —H.C., Medford
    It is a bit tricky, though not impossible, to find out when the International Space Station will be visible over the Rogue Valley, H.C.
    NASA's Johnson Space Center SkyLab website is undergoing maintenance, so its usual list of ISS sighting times isn't available. But NASA does offer an email or text message alert a few hours before each individual sighting, H.C.
    To sign up, see www.spotthestation.nasa.gov.
    Of course, we understand if you'd like to plan a little further ahead.
    One resource that can help is the Astro Viewer website at www.iss.astroviewer.net. Once at the site, click on the observation tab and enter the latitude and longitude for where you live — about 42 North and 122 West for the Rogue Valley.
    After saving the location, a list of visible sighting opportunities for the next 10 days will pop up, along with how bright the station will appear.
    Because the station reflects a lot of light, it is best to observe when it is dark in the Rogue Valley but the station itself is in sunlight, which happens just before sunrise or just after sunset, according to the Astro Viewer site.
    For each of the next 10 days, the site lists the window of time when the station will be 10 degrees above our horizon and the direction of the sky from which the ISS will enter and exit.
    We hope you're an early riser, H.C. Because for the next week, the ISS will be visible for a few minutes each day between 4:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
    According to Astro Viewer, the brightest sighting of the ISS in the next week will be from 6:57 a.m. to 7:03 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, with the station entering from the northwest and exiting to the east.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.
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