NEW AND IMPROVED: Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a field-tested global satellite tracker. The Satellite Flybys app now works in all countries.
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INCREDIBLE SKY SHOW: This afternooon, space shuttle Atlantis left Earth on its final voyage to the ISS. This sets the stage for an incredible sky show this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday evenings, many observers will be able to see the ISS and Atlantis flying past Venus and the crescent Moon. Get the full story from Science@NASA. [sky maps: May 15, 16] [flyby predictions: web, iPhone]
3D SPACE STATION: Imagine a giant spaceship, a 750,000-lb behemoth as wide as a football field with solar wings that dwarf a modern airliner. Robotic arms are busy working around its exterior, careful to avoid a number of smaller spacecraft attached to docking ports. This amazing ship glides across the night sky--and suddenly jumps toward you in startling 3D!
Brace yourself, it's about to happen. First, look at the image below and cross your eyes; merge the two space stations into a single 3D object. Next, click on the image to set the scene in motion (DivX required):
Click to view a 4 MB avi movie. (DivX required)
"I made the movie on April 24th when the International Space Station passed over my home in France," says Theirry Legault. Setting adjacent video frames side by side provided the 3D effect. "All you have to do is squint."
Legault, who is legendary among astrophotographers for his extraordinary shots of spacecraft and other things, recorded the flyby through a 10" Meade ACF telescope on a modified Takahashi EM-400 mount. The trick, he says, was using a green laser to pinpoint the ISS and a custom-made double joystick to track the spacecraft as it glided across the sky. Click here for the full story.
SPACE STATION RAINBOW: On May 12th, the International Space Station passed high over Queensbury, New York, where John E Cordiale was waiting ... with a prism. When the bright light of the streaking spacecraft passed through the glass, it spread into all the colors of a rainbow:
"This is an 18 sec exposure on my Nikon D200," says Cordiale. "For the objective prism, I used a Takahashi Meteor Spectrograph."
The ISS shines by reflected sunlight--just like the raindrops that reflect sunlight in the aftermath of a terrestrial thunderstorm. That's why the "space station rainbow" looks so familar. Same sun, same colors.
Ready to make your own space station rainbow? Grab a prism and check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flybys.
May 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Mays: 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002] [aurora alerts]