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Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

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Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

Here's something memorable to do if you're visiting Grand Cayman this week:

This evening I watched the International Space Station [ISS] flying over Grand Cayman. It was only visible for about a minute tonight (Thursday July 30 starting at 8:34PM), but tomorrow night Friday July 31 it will be visible for as much as five minutes!

Because the atmosphere over Grand Cayman is so unpolluted and there isn't too much "light pollution" you can easily see it passing over the island, provided there's no cloud cover in that part of the sky. Of course we can't guarantee how much or how little cloud cover there will be on any given night! Here's where & when to look:

Friday July 31, 2009 at 7:22PM it will rise and first be visible at an elevation of 10 degrees above North-Northwest, it will pass in the Northern sky just a bit above Polaris (the North Star) and keep rising through North-East continuing through East remaining visible until 7:27PM when it will be sinking below 10 degrees above East-Southeast. Its highest elevation will be around 33 degrees above the horizon. If you get on the North coast, East coast, or wherever you can get a fairly unobstructed view of the Northern and Eastern sky, you should spot it no problem.

The following night Saturday August 1, 2009 it will be visible for up to three minutes, at 7:49PM first at 28 degrees elevation above West, then moving along in the Western sky to a maximum 30 degrees elevation till it sinks to 10 degrees above South at 7:52PM. If you get on the beach on the West side at Rum Point or Seven-Mile-Beach and there are no obstructions in the way in the Western sky, you should spot it no problem.

The time predictions have proven to be very accurate so be sure your watch is set correctly to local Cayman time "Eastern Standard Time". Here's what to look for:

It looks like the brightest star in the sky but it's steadily moving along. It doesn't blink (that would be an airplane!), once it becomes visible it's a steadily glowing point of light moving in a smooth steady arc. Depending on atmospheric conditions and sun angle it may have a bit of a yellowish or reddish cast to it. You can fairly easily spot it with your naked eye (or with glasses if you wear them for distance vision) because it's bright and visibly moving whereas the stars and planets appear to be stationary. It's best to be away from heavy "light pollution" : but if at the "fly-by time" you can see other stars or planets in the general directions where the ISS will be visible, then you're dark enough where you are.

So now let's hope that approaching tropical wave doesn't cover us with too much cloud the next couple of evenings ...

Grand Cayman
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1. Re: Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

Wow that is really cool. Let us knw if you get to see it. Wish I was back (space station or not)!

Trophy Club, Texas
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2. Re: Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

Thanks for the heads up (literally)! My wife will be down this weekend with friends, so hopefully they'll get a kick out of seeing it.

We saw it in Grenada last year and made a point of having after diner cocktails as it slowly dimmed out of sight.

Are any satellites regularly visible? We also love play "is is a star, plane or satellite?" when we vacation in the Rockies, but haven't seen any from GC yet (usually too cloudy when I think about searching for them).

Macomb, Illinois
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3. Re: Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

On a clear night from a quiet beach in North Side, you will see some man-made flying object about once every five minutes!

Thanks for the heads up. Told friends to watch tonight.

emeraldisle,nc
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4. Re: Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

Hey,

THank you for the information. I have e mailed everyone I know to watch tonight.

Grand Cayman...
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5. Re: Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

Hi again all:

I hope those of you on the island tonight got to see it - the sky conditions looked fine, although there was still some "twilight" in the sky. Let us know if you saw it! Unfortunately I got stuck on a conference call till 7:40 PM so didn't get to watch the fly-over tonight :( but hopefully I'll be able to watch tomorrow night's flyover.

Testudo - in answer to your question about other satellites being visible from Grand Cayman - yes! For example I've seen the Hubble Space Telescope [HST], and occasionally I've seen some of the "polar orbit" satellites that generally pass South to North or vice-versa. To find those other sighting opportunities of unmanned spacecraft I use J-Pass, on the Location tab enter Cayman's lat/lon 19.3/-81.3 and shift the Time Zone to the correct local time, on the Control tab select "All Satellites". J-Pass is on the webpage

http://science.nasa.gov/Realtime/jpass/20/

J-Pass doesn't show manned spacecraft (such as the ISS) any more. Those are now on the website

…nasa.gov/realdata/…JavaSSOP.html

but that's a bit more complicated to describe how to use. Anyway ... Grand Cayman is a great place to be to spot all these spacecraft orbiting overhead - maybe this will give "Space Tourism" a whole new meaning!

Macomb, Illinois
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6. Re: Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

Here is the e-mail I just got from my "bestest" North side friend:

"Went out on the deck at 7.20 thinking this is silly as its not dark and not a star in sight, then, oh there IS a star.......oh, oh! not a star, its moving and very bright, came back and read your email again and it was exactly as it said! WOW!

Thanks for telling me."

Grand Cayman...
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7. Re: Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

NorthSideSue - thanks for passing on the sighting confirmation. Glad to hear at least someone on the island was able to enjoy the spectacle this evening!

Tomorrow (Saturday) night's visible portion of the fly-by starts at 7:49PM so the sky will be quite a bit darker than it was at 7:22PM this evening, but the predicted duration it will be visible Saturday evening is three minutes (Friday evening it was five minutes). For those on Seven-Mile-Beach or on the West-facing beaches at Rum Point and Cayman Kai, if there are no clouds it should be easy to see the pass as it will first become visible 28 degrees high in the West a few seconds before 7:49PM - just a bit above the planet Saturn - and move toward the South (setting in the South). When it's at its brightest illumination, the ISS appears brighter than any other planet or star.

Macomb, Illinois
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8. Re: Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

My friends watched it from their second story deck right on the beach in Old Man Bay. Perfect vantage point for Friday night!

Ohio
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9. Re: Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

We saw the Space Station pass by Seven Mile Beach this evening. The time prediction was very accurate. Thanks for letting us know!

Grand Cayman...
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10. Re: Watch the International Space Station fly over Grand Cayman!

So did anyone else see it this evening? It was quite a show!

Although there was heavy rain as the tropical wave passed through earlier in the day and the clouds lingered awhile, thankfully by the time of the ISS fly-by we had a spectacular night for watching it: a "waxing gibbous" moon overhead, sheet lightning still to the south-west, and the Space Station shining brightly as it swung by. It was easily visible even before it passed above Saturn, and very bright all the way till it passed behind clouds to the south around 7:52 pm.