Seasons Of The ISS

I subscribe to this server which goes by the name of "Spot The Station," which sends out an email informing you of when the International Space Station is flying overhead in your area on any given night, if it's going to be heading that way that night at all. These emails give approximately eleven hours' warning.

The ISS has come over my place a number of times so far, and the sightings tend to follow a pattern.

First, there are some very late flybys - 04:30, 03:00, those kinds of times - and these tend to be for two, three nights at a time.

Then, the ISS starts coming overhead earlier. The time window starts with flybys of 02:30 and 04:00, or just 02:00; and the times start edging closer to midnight each night.

Pretty soon, the ISS is just zipping past between 11:00 and 01:30; then even earlier, at times such as 10:30, and ultimately at times like 09:30 or so.

Tonight's sightings were at 09:23 and 11:00. The 09:23 sighting was so early that it was still dusk outside - and the ISS was still very visible, even in an almost-starless sky. The 11:00 sky was black, clear and deliciously starry.

If I'm lucky, there'll be one, maybe two more nights of the ISS appearing this early - and then that's it. The end of the season, for now. A week without sightings ... and then the new season of sightings begins again, with flybys resuming in the wee small hours.

Of course, tonight could well be the end of the current season - in which case, I will know about it tomorrow, if no new Spot The Station emails appear in my inbox tomorrow.

2013 08 18 Edit: So far, it looks as if the season is continuing, with one or two gap nights when it isn't due to fly overhead. It's due over my place tonight at 09:23, coming in from the West, heading out Southeast. As always, weather permitting I hope to see it.

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