The International Space Station
Lancaster Travel Blog› entry 30 of 94 › view all entries
Southern California is the cradle of the American aviation and aerospace industries. Clear night skies over the Mojave Desert rekindled a longtime desire to spot the International Space Station. At ten years in orbit, the structure has grown immensely. Currently, the Space Shuttle Orbiter Endeavour, the Russian Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft, and the MPLM Leonardo, (a multi purpose logistics module) are docked to it.
At www.spaceflight.nasa.gov I found a link titled 'Sighting Opportunities' where I was able to enter my location by country, state, and city. A list came up telling me the dates and times that the International Space Station would be visible (skies permitting). The list told me that it would appear at 5:58p.m. from the southern horizon and make a three minute passing toward the northeast horizon.
As the time approached, I anxiously waited as though at LAX wondering how long my next flight would be delayed and whether I would make a connecting flight. Larry and I paced his front yard in Lancaster, keeping eyes peeled on the south horizon. Then lo and behold, right on time, there it is! NASA runs on schedule. To the naked eye it looked like any other satellite, resembling a slow moving star silently gliding across the night sky. In actuality, the station hurls at an approximate altitude of 190 miles above the earth at an average speed of 17,210 miles per hour and completes 15.7 earth orbits per day.
I clicked several pictures of the moving dot without a tripod or any special camera settings. One shot just happened to come out sharp and, when I cropped it, was stunned at what I saw.