Friday, May 25, 2012

Stubbornly anticipating a cloudy ISS / Dragon C2+ flyover

On Tuesday night we had clear skies, and I had planned to photograph the SpaceX Dragon capsule chasing down the International Space Station at a time when both crafts would have been visible in the same shot - it looked pretty impressive in my mind. The pass was going to occur at around 4:20am, so I set my alarm for 3:45am. The next thing I remember is waking up at 5:15am, checking the time, and realizing I must have turned my alarm off in my sleep (although Chris distinctly remembers being woken up by my alarm).

Fast forward to tonight and we have poor weather conditions that look like they're only going to get worse. I've been watching a row of thunderstorms roll in for the past 5 hours, hoping that they would either speed up or slow down because they look to be on track for squatting over Bowling Green at precisely the time of the flyover.

A depressing weather map from AccuWeather.com
There are several reasons I feel compelled to press on in spite of the clouds. I'm frustrated that I missed my opportunity to see Dragon two nights ago, I am encouraged by a photo of the ISS through the fog, and I'm excited because I've never seen the ISS flyover before and I hear it is pretty cool (and bright enough to be seen through a thin layer of clouds perhaps).

I'm using an app called Satellite Tracker () after visiting the NASA Human Space Flight tracker page and being confused by the directions. The NASA page gives the degrees (azimuth) at different periods, and the azimuth at rise and set, but for some reason I find the top-down image on the Satellite Tracker app to be much easier to visualize.


screen shot of satellite tracker appscreen shot of satellite tracker app

I'm heading out at 3:30am to point my camera northeast for 45 minutes to see what happens. Maybe I'll get lucky and catch Dragon through a hole in the clouds, or maybe the ISS will be bright enough to shine through. Maybe I won't see anything at all, but at least I won't be left wondering when I wake up in the morning even more frustrated.

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