Space Station Flyover

September 10th, 2009 at 2:30 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

International Space Station We had an excellent flyover of the International Space Station this evening.  I went out and saw it through partly cloudy skies, so it danced in and out a c0uple times.  It started at 8:29 PM Thursday, Sept. 10.   The station moved from WSW to ENE, up to an angle of 84 degrees, or almost straight overhead.  Check out the list of Space Station Flyovers for West Michigan.   The Space Station is as big as a football field and is roughly 220 miles above ground level.  Finally, check out some fantastic new pictures from the Hubble Telescope.

67 Responses to “Space Station Flyover”

  1. Bob P. :o) St.Johns says:

    I’ll be out!

    1. Mary Bierman says:

      Our family just watched it from Muskegon, FANTASTIC!!!!

      1. Kristenia says:

        My husband and I saw ISS in Kentwood MI at 8:30. It was very cool. We kissed when it was right above us..romantics :)

  2. Rob Dale says:

    Don’t forget that the space shuttle is out ahead of it by a little over a minute, so stand still and watch them both!

    1. Carrie Rae says:

      The Space Shuttle is landing tomorrow around 7pm, but that would have been neat to see.

      1. Rob Dale says:

        Didn’t you look? It was there…

        And for those who did see – there was a little haze around the space shuttle. It wasn’t your eyes, and it wasn’t cirrus clouds. They were doing a waste water dump, and you saw the ice crystals reflecting the sun.

        1. AstroGeek says:


          I think Carrie was talking about tomorrow night’s flyover.

  3. Rachel says:

    I just saw them both over Grandville- 9:50pm Wow, pretty cool!

  4. Dante says:

    Thanks, Rob! I thought Discovery looked a little “different”. I wish I would’ve had my camera out!

  5. AstroGeek says:

    Compared to tonight’s flyover, tomorrow night’s will be great.

    Did anyone catch both craft of Tuesday night? Another spectacular flyover, coming from the southwest and going nearly overhead (80 degrees). Discovery was out ahead of ISS by only a short distance.

    I got a great photograph of them as they flew over.

    1. Rob Dale says:

      It won’t fly over tomorrow, unless weather in Florida gets bad, because they are landing. I guess that’s why her post (and now yours ;) ) confused me.

      1. AstroGeek says:

        Well, at least ISS will fly over tonight. :)

        I guess I don’t understand how my post was confusing.

        On Tuesday the 8th, both Discovery and ISS fly over with a high point in the arc of ~80 degrees. Discovery only a short distance from ISS.

        On Wednesday the 9th, Discovery was further ahead of ISS (as many of us saw), but only ~35 above the horizon at highest point.

        Tonight (the 10th), ISS will fly over at a maximum height of ~85 degrees. (and yeah, if Discovery doesn’t land, it will be going over as well).

  6. Jim Jones says:

    I’m from Ionia.
    I am in Clovis, New Mexico, on a business trip.
    Here they were WSW to NE at dusk.
    Shuttle @ 7:37 PM and ISS @ 7:38 PM, MDT.

    My uncle near Eaton Rapids saw them, going NE through the handle of the Big Dipper.
    Shuttle @ 9:41 PM, ISS @ 9:42 PM, EDT.

  7. Rob Dale says:

    Weather doesn’t look very good in Florida so we might get a double-pass tonight of ISS & Space Shuttle.

  8. Jim Westover says:

    My wife and I watched it last evening and it was awsome. The Space Station must have been going first with the shuttle following behind. We at first thought it was a coment.

    1. Rob Dale says:

      Opposite – space shuttle first, followed by the space station. Comets don’t move in the sky like that.

  9. Grace says:

    Did anyone see a flash in the sky after they both passed out of sight on Wednesday night? My son and I saw a bright, round, quick flash.

  10. GRJay says:

    Shuttle landing has been scrubbed for today, so it should fly over as scheduled at 8:27 PM, two minutes before the ISS, folloowing the same trajectory. Should at least be able to see part of their path through these clouds.

  11. scott fryer says:

    did any of you see the lights sunday around 10.00 pm at holland state park they were a bright orange and went straight uop then ten minutes they did it again

  12. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

    I’m in southeast Michigan. Will I be able to see it too?? Earlier or later?

    1. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

      Never mind. Found it. Doesn’t look as promising tonite for us… I missed the good one last nite it looks like =/.

  13. Rob Dale says:

    Just saw the space shuttle pass over Lansing – space station isn’t far behind!

    1. Rob Dale says:

      ISS was _very_ bright. Next pass around 10pm won’t be quite as glowing…

  14. Tom (Alger Heights) says:

    Just caught my first viewing of the ISS. What a sight!!!

  15. BSPatrol says:

    I think i just saw it …did it look like a bright star moving at a good clip..

  16. Bob P. :o) (St.Johns) says:

    yup…it’s just too cool!

  17. BSPatrol says:

    I did not see the shuttle though

    1. GRJay says:

      Us neither. Saw ISS just fine, but never caught the shuttle. Weird.

  18. bouytender says:

    Awesome. Just went over Grand Haven. Moving fast.

  19. SHIRA says:

    I saw it fly right over my head in G.R. How beautiful. It looked amazing. Like a flying star or something. I can’t wait for thre next time they fly over. Peace.

  20. Branchman says:

    will we be able to see this again tonight?

    1. Branchman says:

      it looks like yes

  21. Val says:

    We saw it perfectly up in Newaygo. Just before seeing that, I saw a flash in the sky and then a bright light going across the sky going SW. Was this the shuttle?

    1. Rob Dale says:

      No. THe shuttle followed the exact same path, about 2 minutes earlier, but due to sunset it wasn’t visible until about directly overhead.

    2. Jay says:

      We watched it in the Boston Area (about 40 miles north in Haverhill, MA) at 8:07pm on September 9, pitch black out, no sunset in the way. It was the strangest thing. We were tracking the space station coming from WSW and then right above us we saw the cloud that Rob describes and then the shuttle seemed to appear out of nowhere at the same magnitude (brightness) as the space station. Then they just tracked each other speed for speed.

      My 11 year old said, “Dad, it looked like it just warped there”. Very strange. I’ve never seen anything like that before. We had a crystal clear view of the space station from about 10 degrees off the horizon, but never saw the shuttle until it was overhead.

  22. David says:

    Too bad it was through spotted clouds this evening, but neat to see anyway. Quite bright, too.

    Reminded me of seeing SkyLab in the 70s, moving along the same trajectory, but that craft was much smaller and not as bright as a result.

  23. Tom Kukla says:

    My wife and I saw ISS overhead in Walker at 8:32PM. I believe she might have caught a photo of it and the Shuttle on her digital camera?! Fine sight through partly cloudy skies.

  24. Mike Geukes says:

    Went for a walk, saw the ISS, very bright and went right overhead.
    Back to researching severe weather watches.


  25. Jerry (Lansing) says:

    There were four of us that saw the ISS under clear skies while enjoying some fellowship over fine wine. It was my second time seeing the station fly over and their first. They were excited, like I was the first time.


  26. Sue says:

    My husband and I saw the shuttle both times tonight,wow!!! We also noticed something with flashing red/blue lights in the west. Is this a satelite?

    1. Rob Dale says:

      No, anything with flashing lights is a plane.

      1. Sue says:

        We have seen it on a number of ocasions, and it does not move. Don’t think it is an airplane.

  27. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

    I saw it here in southeastern Michigan. Didn’t look like it would be good tonite, but it was perfect. Came right out of the west and moved quickly to the northeast. Was the first one the shuttle or the station?

    No clouds, so I could see it comin’ in and everything. Bright yellow light. Very cool and a neat perspective. I think I may prefer this to an overhead because you got to see it come into and out of view.

    1. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

      Time here was 10:07pm.

    2. Rob Dale says:

      Shuttle was out front.

  28. AstroGeek says:

    We saw it through the clouds when we were down at the Ford Museum near the astronaut sculpture. We had a small crowd gather wondering what we were looking at, so we took the time to spread the word about science and astronomy, and how the local astronomy club knows all. :) .

    And we especially let people know that the Veen Observatory is going to be open to the public this Saturday.

  29. Colin says:

    My wife and myself were out walking next to the marina we live in north of Seattle, and we saw the shuttle and station pass over very clearly roughly SW to NE, sky was clear as a bell and spectacular. They were large and shiny! This is my second sighting, a year or more ago I saw the shuttle chasing the station to dock. It’s an amazing sight.!!! God bless America

  30. John and Lisa says:

    It was awesome to see the station go over our house. I was wondering if there is a site to find out all the fly bys in the Grand Rapids area ? Thanks for the tip Bill

    1. Rob Dale says:

      Yep – click the link Bill posted at the top which says “Check out the list of Space Station Flyovers for West Michigan” and it will list all the space station fly bys over GRR.

    2. Dante says:

      You can also go to Space Weather:
      ( Put in your zip code and you’ll see a listing of all visible objects for your area.

      This one might be my favorite though, you can track the satellite on a map:

  31. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

    I was meaning to ask, but did anyone see that bright blinking light following the ISS? Must have obviously been a satellite, but it was easily 5-10 times brighter than a normal satellite.

    1. Rob Dale says:

      If it’s regularly blinking and on the same path as the space station, then it was an airplane. If it’s brighter than the space station, it’s DEFINITELY a plane. The ISS is the largest and brightest object up there.

      1. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

        Wasn’t brighter than the space station, and I definitely don’t think it was a plane. Planes are usually easily differentiated because they have 3 noticeable lights on each wing and on the tail.

        You don’t think they may have an advanced satellite following them around? Definitely looked like one to me. Very bright and followed the exact same path.

        Just curious if anyone saw this.

        1. Rob Dale says:

          There’s no way you would see the wing/tail lights on a plane at 35-45000ft up. There is no satellite following the space station, you just saw a jet at high altitudes.

        2. Jay says:

          This was not visible in the North East – Boston area. We did however see a faint satellite that run perpendicular to the Shuttle/ISS path. Super cool.

          Still freaked out about the shuttle just appearing overhead though, especially since sunset here is 7:01pm and the shuttle showed up over an hour later, AND we had full visibility to the ISS.

        3. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

          Thanks for the follow-up, guys. I appreciate it! I do a lot of sky watching, and I had never seen an object like this that followed the shuttle/ISS… so I was just curious for some thoughts.

          The fact that it followed so closely to the ISS on the exact same path with very comparable speed and was blinking brighter than any satellite or plane I’ve ever seen made me wonder.

          I even thought maybe it was possible that the solar panels on the ISS could reflect the sun onto another object.

  32. Rob Dale says:

    The shuttle is landing in California this evening – so only the ISS overhead tongith.

  33. Monte Goodyk says:

    Saw it from Iowa last night too. It was much better wednesday night.

  34. Jay says:

    Too overcast in Boston tonight to view. Enjoy for it for the east coast!

    1. Jay says:

      I mean “Enjoy it for us here on the East Coast”.

  35. Tyler F says:

    Saw it last night at Celebration on the grand from Rosa Parks Circle, wasn’t even looking for it…it was that bright!

  36. I just did a couple tweets that I thought I’d post here to see if any of you saw this. It doesn’t correspond correctly with the times that the space station was supposed to be going over Grand Rapids, though…

    “This sounds weird but…did anyone else just see that bright orange-red weird light in the sky just now? It wasn’t moving like a plane.”

    “I went to get the video camera and Kent said it moved a little, then just vanished up in the sky. Wonder what it was?”

    This was at about 11:00 pm. The time the link from the blog said was 9:21 pm or so.

    Anybody know what we saw?


    1. hey kitchen kop says:

      Hey!! We seen two of the orange lights. Very strange!! We also seen the space station fly through about 5-10 min before that…it wasn’t the space station that is for sure…but yes there were two of them.

      1. I also saw them says:

        I also saw 2 strange orange lights, 5 – 10 minutes after the space station passed by. They were a very bright orange glow. And were moving the same direction, then one changed direction and started to fade, and the other moved back toward the direction they had come from and it started to pulsate (not a flash). A slow pulsation with no real rhythm to it. Then it also faded. It was very weird.

    2. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

      Thank you! I’m not the only one who saw strange lights after the ISS. See my post above.

  37. I’m glad we weren’t the only ones, but I wish Bill Steffen or someone would tell us what it was we may have seen!

  38. caden moelker says:

    just watched it with my brother Grand and grandma 3 5 10 @ 7:20 faaaaassssst

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