Space Shuttle Flyover Visible From Virginia Thursday and Saturday

November 19, 2008 — The Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on Friday and docked Saturday evening with the International Space Station. This week, the spacecraft will make a spectacular sweep over Central Virginia, according to an astronomy professor at the University of Virginia.

The first and best pass will take place Thursday evening, said Ed Murphy, an associate professor. His recommendation:

"Go outside around 6 p.m. to give yourself a few minutes to adjust to the dark. At 6:12 p.m., the space station and Shuttle Endeavour will appear over the southwest horizon, just to the right of Venus and Jupiter (the two bright planets low in the southwest). They will appear as a very bright star moving slowly through the sky, passing from southwest to northeast.

"At 6:15:34 p.m., they will be very nearly straight overhead. At 6:16:29 p.m., they will disappear into the shadow of the Earth about halfway up in the northeast sky. As the space station and Endeavour pass overhead, they will be at a distance of 212 miles."

He noted that, if the mission continues according to plan, two of the astronauts will be working on the solar array joint on the space station.

Your next opportunity to see the spacecraft will be Saturday evening, Murphy said.

The spacecraft will appear over the southwest horizon at 5:29 p.m. They will be highest in the sky, about 79 degrees above the northwest horizon, at 5:32:12 p.m., and will disappear low in the northeast sky at 5:35 p.m.

"Both passes should be spectacular," he said in an astronomy newsletter. "With the last few shuttle missions bringing large modules to the International Space Station, it has grown substantially brighter. It will be, by far, brighter than any star or planet as it passes overhead."

You can generate predictions for future passes and get maps of the pass at
www.heavens-above.com.

You can also watch the activities, especially the spacewalks, live on NASA TV. It is carried by many cable and satellite television providers, and is available on the Internet at
www.nasa.gov.