For next three days, Mumbai has front row seat to space station trail

Updated: Dec 21, 2016, 15:05 IST | Gaurav Sarkar

The habitable artificial satellite will be visible from Mumbai three days in a row, in the evening that is

Illustration/Ravi Jadhav
Illustration/Ravi Jadhav

For the next three days, beginning today, keep an eye on the sky. NASA's International Space Station (ISS) — a habitable artificial satellite in Earth’s low orbit — will be visible to the naked eye in the evenings.

The most extraordinary sight will play out on the second day, when the $150 billion satellite passes between Venus and Mars.

Prepare to be wowed
The first sighting will occur at 6.54 pm today. “At that time, the ISS will be visible on Mumbai’s horizon,” said Arvind Paranjpye, director of Nehru Planetarium. “It will be in the line of sight of Mumbaikars, and slightly west of true north. At 6.51 pm and 16 seconds, it will climb up to 10° above the horizon. At this point, the satellite will head due north. At 6.54 pm and 2 seconds, it will move in the northeast direction; one should be able to see it passing at a 25° angle above the horizon. The ISS will become clearer as it climbs higher.”

NASA's International Space Station

The space station will be visible for 7 minutes on the first day.

Skygazers’ delight
According to Paranjpye, the ‘wow moment’ will play out on the second day, when the ISS will be visible for 9 minutes, starting 7.35 pm.

“If Mumbaikars face west during this time, they will see a very bright object in the sky. This’ll be Venus. Slightly above it will be a reddish-coloured astral body. That’ll be Mars. Since it will be really dark, both bodies will be easily identifiable. During those 9 minutes, the ISS will pass between both planets.”

The most telling photographs of this can be captured between 7.36 pm and 7.41 pm. “One will be able to capture the trails of Venus and Mars, as well as the ISS passing between the two,” said Paranjpye.

It gets better
On Thursday, the ISS’ visibility will be clearer and brighter. “It will pass right overhead,” said Paranjpye. “It will start moving in the northwest direction at 6.41 pm and rapidly climb above the horizon at 6.43 pm. At 6.46 pm, it will be in an almost overhead position. Anyone in Mumbai should be able to spot it at this time.” The ISS will be visible for 10 minutes on this day.

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