Over the next few days, Red Deerians can start their morning by looking up and seeing the International Space Station.
Chris Gainor, president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, said the view isn’t as good in northern parts of the country, but most Canadians live in the south, where the orbiting station can be visible.
“The station passes over us every day, a couple of times. A lot of the time, it will pass over in the middle of the day, or the middle of the night, when it’s not easy to see,” Gainor said.
“It looks like a star. It’s usually the brightest star you see and it’s always going from west to east. Often, you’ll see satellites going from north to south, and those are weather satellites, or reconnaissance satellites.
Roland Dechesne, president of the Calgary chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, said if skies are clear, the station will easily be visible early in the morning until about Nov. 7.
“We need a certain set of circumstances to make it visible. Right now in the morning, it is visible, because you need it in sunlight, but also against a dark sky,” Dechesne said.
On Saturday, the station will make two passes. The first pass is at about 5:45 a.m., but it will be low on the horizon, making it difficult to see. But the next pass it is almost directly over Red Deer at 7:21 a.m., before disappearing in the east at 7:24 a.m.
“This is not a flashy, bright meteor that disappears in a few seconds. You have time to watch it.”
Orbiting the Earth constantly since 1998, the huge flying laboratory is continuously occupied with astronauts and takes about 90 minutes to circle Earth, he said.
Dechesne said the station orbits 400 kilometres overhead, but the best way to view it is with unaided eyes. It reflects the sun, so it appears yellow/white compared to stars that appear blueish.
With half the station occupied by Russians, and the other half by Americans and participants from partner countries, politics are put aside in space, unlike what is happening on Earth, he said.
“It’s a reminder of international co-operation,” Dechesne said.