After work on Tuesday evening I happened to read on my facebook feed that the International Space Station was going to be visible from our house. The Brisbane Planetarium said it would pass through the Southern Cross at 7:05pm. So I looked out of the window towards the south-west (and into the lights of the city) and flicking between Google Skymap and Space Junk (both apps on my android tablet) I waited. And there it appeared; moving at some speed.
It isn't the easiest thing trying to point out a moving satelite in a brightly lit city sky to four year olds. The Southern Cross was barely visible in the glare of the city, but using the two pointers and a telephone pole, we found it!
We got it while it was still low on the horizon, and still quite faint, but it got brighter the higher it went. We ran outside to get a better look, but it was only visible for a few more minutes until it passed into the Earth’s shadow almost directly overhead. No sooner had the ISS disappeared then the Hubble Space Telescope made its appearance almost perpendicular to the ISS track.
Although the Kidneys were excited to see the bright dots move across the sky (just as MUM predicted), SON was most impressed when I told him there were people in the ISS! But not so pleased to hear that Hubble was unmanned.
Currently there are 6 people on the ISS; Commander Mike Fossum and flight engineers Dan Burbank, Satoshi Furukawa, Sergei Volkov, Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov.
We are going to make more of an effort to follow the ISS from now both observationally and what’s going on up there and it is quite easy to do.