ISS and Shuttle visibility during STS-131

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I posted this in the STS-131 thread in Missions and Launches, but this is also a great opportunity for many in the US to see Discovery and the ISS both separate and docked during the mission.

Some notes for observing from the ground tomorrow. There will be an ISS pass in the morning just after 6 AM for most of the eastern US, moving from south to east with highest elevation in the southeast. Check for details for your location. It's 18 degrees high for me here in NJ, and about 44 degrees at the Cape. Now that the Soyuz has docked there are 6 on board.

The Shuttle launch is scheduled for 6:21 AM; that's 15 minutes before sunrise for me here in NJ, 57 minutes before sunrise at the Cape...that means the SRB plumes will start in shadow, but at some point will break out into sunshine..I'll work on the math if I have time later...busy cooking day.

Once Discovery docks, there will be 13 at the ISS/Shuttle complex.

For the first time in history, there will be 4 women in space at the same time.

During the mission, here in NJ, I have many superb early morning viewing opportunities leading up to docking (scheduled for the 8th) and throughout most of the mission, and after undocking, so check out Heavens Above to see if that applies to your location.

Some important notes:

Here's the H-A page:

The first thing you must do is select your location, either from the city and town database, or the map. Once you have done so, THEN bookmark the page so when you open it in the future, your location will be the default.

The city you live in is adequate for almost all satellites, but if you intend to use the tool to see Iridium Flares, it must be accurate to within a mile, since the reflected flare spot is quite small on the earth's surface.

During the time from launch through docking, the STS-131 times will be accurate for the epoch listed, but decrease in accuracy as time goes on. There are about 8 orbital maneuvers from launch to docking, each changes the location and timing of the STS pass. (Of course, the ISS predictions, and the docked shuttle/ISS times are always accurate). Neither H-A or the NASA satellite viewing tool are very good at quickly updating the orbit after manuevers, so get out early, be patient after the predicted STS time, and look higher or lower than the listed position. The same situation exists after the shuttle undocks, though there usually aren't as many maneuvers. When you see them both, the ISS will almost always be the brighter of the two, whether leading or trailing.

Good Luck!

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