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Space Science

ISS To Become Second Brightest-Object In the Sky 243

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the bright-future-of-the-iss dept.
Matt_dk writes "Move over, Morning Star. Once Canadarm2 helps install the fourth and final set of solar array wings to the International Space Station later this month, the Station will surpass Venus as the brightest object in the night sky, second only to the Moon. The Space Shuttle Discovery is set to deliver the power-generating solar panels and Starboard 6 (S6) truss segment to the ISS on the 125th mission in the Shuttle program, known as STS-119/15A (slated for launch on March 11)."
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ISS To Become Second Brightest-Object In the Sky

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  • by lecithin (745575) on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:15PM (#27126047)

    Yes, the ISS is bright and will be brighter.

    This still doesn't rival the brightness of an Iridium flare.

    Predictions of the ISS and Iridium flares are provided at http://www.heavens-above.com/ [heavens-above.com]

    Then there have been comets and supernova that have been visible during daylight. Yea, I think the ISS is cool to observe, but don't call it 2nd brightest after the moon.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:17PM (#27126069)

      Plus, you know, THE SUN. (I know the summary was more specific, but the title was not.)

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:37PM (#27126375) Homepage

      Yes, the ISS is bright and will be brighter.

      This still doesn't rival the brightness of an Iridium flare.

      Then there have been comets and supernova that have been visible during daylight. Yea, I think the ISS is cool to observe, but don't call it 2nd brightest after the moon.

      Okay, but those supernova are long gone so while they were on top back then, they aren't relevant today. You could also make an argument that the flare's apparent brightness only lasts a couple seconds while the ISS is bright for the majority of its traversal. Doesn't change that the flare really is much brighter when it occurs, but on the other hand on a normal night I'm perfectly comfortable saying that Venus is the 2nd brightest object in the sky.

      Either way, this is a dramatic increase in the brightness of ISS. On a clear night far away from cities, ISS is easy to see, but also easy to lose in the sea of stars of similar brightness*. To be sure that you'll find it, you have to know roughly when and where it will appear, and then look for the star that moves. If it becomes brighter than Venus, you won't need a schedule or even a dark sky to be able to easily see when it passes over.

      * Okay WP says that its max magnitude is equal to that of Venus, but I've never seen ISS under those conditions then. If the upgraded ISS will only be brighter than Venus at maximum, then maybe it's not that big a change as I'm thinking.

    • by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:44PM (#27126487) Homepage

      > This still doesn't rival the brightness of an Iridium flare.

      Yes it does. It does already. You're comparing flare mags with standard mags. The ISS _does_ flare, and when it does it is much brighter than Iridium. Sadly, Mike Tyrrell's page is gone, but there was a collection of images there.

      Maury

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:16PM (#27126055)

    Move over, Morning Star. Once Canadarm2 helps install the fourth and final set of solar array wings to the International Space Station later this month, the Station will surpass Venus as the brightest object in the night sky, second only to the Moon.

    That's no moon. It's the International Space Station.

  • by Zymergy (803632) * on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:19PM (#27126097)
    I keep thinking of the effects of a discarded Coke bottle on those non-technically savvy people in "The Gods Must Be Crazy"...
    Perhaps they will select Three Wise Men to go on a pilgrimage toward the bright new star...
  • by Daimanta (1140543) on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:20PM (#27126103) Journal

    I live in a city so the light pollution messes up any chances I have at looking at a starry sky. I have as a child always found it incomprehensible that people said that you couldn't count all the stars because I can surely do it where I live.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by polar red (215081)

      you couldn't count all the stars

      there are more stars than there are grains of sand on all the beaches of the world.

      • there are more stars than there are grains of sand on all the beaches of the world.

        That's what "they" want you to think. Those "stars" were all manufactured in a Hollywood studio, next to the faked moon landings.

        • by polar red (215081)

          that looks like a very expensive production ...

        • Oh wow, I've just had another one of those crazy religious flashback flashback flashbacks (/GTA reference).

          Back in my stupider days (okay, there was a girl involved, but I digress) I was attending religious meetings that discussed idiotic things like bible numerics or whatever it's called.

          I talked to the leader of the meeting, a pastor if memory serves, and I asked him on the stance they/the bible all took on the subject of other alien intelligences (I likely used the phrase UFOs, but the meaning was there)

      • by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Monday March 09, 2009 @05:28PM (#27127027) Journal
        Yet there still seem to be a finite number of them, and they are thus countable. Not even enough to have to determine if they are a countable or uncountable infinity.
        • by polar red (215081)

          the grains of sand on the beaches of earth are countable, in theory at least ...

        • by Obfuscant (592200)
          Yet there still seem to be a finite number of them, and they are thus countable. Not even enough to have to determine if they are a countable or uncountable infinity.

          Yes, the number of stars must be finite and thus must be countable.

          Assumption 1: there was a Big Bang. 2: The speed of light in a vacuum (c) is a hard limit on a mass's velocity. 3: a star has non-zero mass and non-zero positive volume.

          The MAXIMUM radius of the universe can be calculated from c multiplied by the time since the Big Bang. Th

    • by Nos. (179609) <andrew@nOspAM.thekerrs.ca> on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:30PM (#27126269) Homepage

      Even growing up in a small town I didn't really comprehend how many stars there were until we went camping. We were in Dinosaur Provincial Park and once it got dark it was amazing. With almost no nearby light pollution, you can clearly see an arm of the milky way overhead. Even without that arm, there are too many stars to count.

    • by Thelasko (1196535)

      I live in a city so the light pollution messes up any chances I have at looking at a starry sky.

      I live in the suburbs. Fortunately for me, the light pollution isn't bad enough to make star gazing difficult. I've recently become interested in astronomy. Thanks to Stellarium, I can easily pick out Venus in the night's sky, and am working on other stars and planets.

      However, I live in the flight path of a nearby airport. How can I tell the difference between ISS, and a passing plane?

      • by Daimanta (1140543) on Monday March 09, 2009 @05:19PM (#27126929) Journal

        "However, I live in the flight path of a nearby airport. How can I tell the difference between ISS, and a passing plane?"

        If you fire a stinger at it and it hits, it's most certainly a plain. If it misses, it's probably the ISS.

        Works for me.

      • Planes will have navigation strobes on (they blink), though if you're looking right at the landing lights they can be hard to see sometimes. Satellites will be steady, not blinking, and not changing course. You also won't ever see one flying east-to-west. West-to-east and north-south either way, but not east-west.

  • Darkness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by qoncept (599709) on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:21PM (#27126113) Homepage
    My dad grew up in the middle-of-nowhere, Idaho, and says when he was kid they would watch Sputnik fly across the sky. The high elevation and lack of big city lights make the night sky amazing.
    • by Scutter (18425)

      My dad grew up in the middle-of-nowhere, Idaho

      I bet addressing and delivering mail to him was a pain in the butt.

  • "I saw two shooting stars last night,
    I wished on them but they were only satellites.
    Is it wrong to wish on space hardware?"
    --Billy Brag "A New England"

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:24PM (#27126161)
    Some say Venus is visible during the day (tho' I've not seen it myself).

    If the ISS does turn out to be brighter than Venus - which varies in brightness considerably, depending on where in it's orbit it is - relative to earth, then it will be interesting to see if it's visible during daytime passes, too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by berend botje (1401731)
      Venus can be (and often is) visible during the day. The Moon also, and I'm sure you've seen that some time.

      The only problem is that ISS isn't stationary, so you have to know where to look and at the right time as well!
    • Recently I've been seeing Venus (from suburban Denver) in the western sky nearly every night. If I know where to look, I can usually make it out in the early morning when the sun is still on the opposite side of the sky.
    • by Lendrick (314723)

      I've seen the ISS during the day, and that was back in 2002 or so. It was pretty close to sunset, and it was awfully bright, Venus-like, even, when it went by overhead. That said, maybe I just saw something else that I *thought* was the ISS. I've seen satellites before, though, and this looked like one, just way brighter.

    • There's a reason that Venus' nickname is "The Morning Star" ;) You're not gonna see it at high noon or anything, but it's rather visible for a little while after dawn, and before sunset, and typically just looks like an abnormally bright star. I used to see it quite often when getting ready to go to school as a kid. Since the ISS moves though, it may be difficult to tell it apart from an airplane :/
    • by djmurdoch (306849)

      Venus is quite easy to see during the day if you know where to look and use binoculars. Stand in a shadow, so you don't accidentally look at the sun and fry your eyes.

      It's a little tricky with the naked eye, but if you've found it with binoculars first, it's easy. It's actually easier if there are a few clouds nearby. If the sky is clear blue, your eyes don't know what to focus on, so Venus is likely too blurry to see.

      When Shoemaker-Levy was landing on Jupiter, I managed to see Jupiter in daylight in a s

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:30PM (#27126265) Homepage Journal

    Anyone know which country the Canadarm2 is from? /ducks

    • In the West, you make jokes about Canada.

      In Soviet space, no one can hear you scream!

    • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Monday March 09, 2009 @05:07PM (#27126797)
      I believe it was made in China.

      Like most things in Canada.

      Signed, a proud Canadian.

    • Actually, the company that makes it (MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates' space division) was very almostly sold to a US defense contractor last spring. Which would kind of have sucked for Canada's space industry, since that company is basically ...our only one.

      So really - back off, get your own robot space arms! : ) Cool, thanks, eh?

      A bit of canadian history - in the late 50s, Canada had developed the world's most advanced jet interceptor (the Avro Arrow). When it was cancelled in 1958, almost every
  • ... when it springs another gas leak and blows up.

  • How ironic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zmooc (33175) <zmooc@@@zmooc...net> on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:43PM (#27126473) Homepage

    Isn't it ironic that the parts of the ISS that are meant to absorb as much sunlight as they can, actually reflect enough of it to make the ISS the seconds brightest object in the sky:P

  • This summary left out a key element whenever solar power is mentioned. How much power in standard popular press houses is this array rated for?
  • I have not yet seen the ISS, but will probably look for it soon with my 5-year old daughter.

    One of my strongest childhood memories is of watching the Echo [wikipedia.org] satellite go overhead from my grandmother's backyard during a summer family barbecue, probably sometime between 1966 to 1968 (though it had been launched in 1960). Everyone was aware it would be coming overhead so we were all waiting for it -- they must have announced it in the paper or something for our area. It seemed a very bright star and passed
    • by Vellmont (569020)


      I do feel sad for today's generation, I don't think they ever get the sense of the fantastic we experienced so often in the 60s and 70s from our space program.

      Are you kidding? We only have two robots wandering around Mars for the past several years, a space telescope, multiple missions to other planets, comets, and a host of other missions I can't even list. You're trying to tell me that pales in comparison to what amounts to little more than a giant balloon in orbit? It seems to me it's easier for a 10

  • I look for the ISS several times a month. A schedule is here [heavens-above.com] In a given month the ISS is visible about one week in the morning sky and one week in the evening. The orbit moves to be optimal for US or Soviet launches at different times.

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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