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 ...