Saturday, 21 March 2009

Very bright International Space Station (Updated)

This evening I observed a magnificent pass of the International Space Station (ISS), with the Shuttle docked to it.

At about 40 degrees altitude in the west, during its approach, it shortly became very bright. A conservative estimate by me placed it at at least magnitude -5; Leo Barhorst observing the same pass from Almere, some 30 km North of me, estimated magnitude -6. After that, it slightly fainted, remaining bright but not as bright as it had been in the west.

Update: telescopic images by Quintus Oostendorp on show that the brightening was due to the solar panels reflecting sunlight.

This brief brightening was captured by my camera. The Hyades are visible to the left, the Pleiades to the right.

(click image to enlarge)


Kevin Lee said...

I observed and photographed it at exactly the time time as you (Lancaster, UK).

It was indeed very nice.

Anonymous said...


I took that photo. It is part of a video I made of the flaring event:

The flare was very bright indeed. I've never witnessed the ISS being so incredibly bright.