Space Station, 22 Oct. @ 7:45 PM

The International Space Station (ISS) nearly runs over South Bend's birthday star Eltanin tonight, as seen from the ground! The spacecraft with five people on board is often visible in the evening or morning sky if you know when and where to look. For anyone near lower Lake Michigan, it passes nearly overhead on Thursday, October 22, 2015. Look to the northwest around 7:45 p.m EDT for what looks like a bright plane, except there are no flashing lights. Around 7:48 p.m. it is overhead and on its way toward the southeastern sky.

You can get alerts sent to you when the ISS is passing high above your location from Spot The Station. I like to use Heavens-Above.com to track ISS and other prominent satellites. Heavens-Above also gives you the simulated perspective of looking from the ISS down to earth over its ground track. Launched in May 2015 is a new satellite that can get bright (up to mag= -2.4), too.

If you follow the path of the ISS on Thursday the 22nd, notice some of the nearby stars it passes. Between the end of the handle of the Big Dipper and the bright star Vega overhead is the head of Draco the Dragon. The brightest star in Draco is Eltanin, South Bend's sesquicentennial star at 150 light years away. When the starlight left Eltanin, South Bend's founders were penning the documents, and that starlight is just now reaching our eyes.

South Bend continues to celebrate history through starlight in 2015. Keep looking up.

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