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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 23, 2001

Space station Alpha to speed across Hawai'i sky

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Science Writer

The International Space Station will be bright in the sky over Hawai'i shortly after 8 p.m. tonight.

The station's vast bank of solar panels will reflect the sun, creating the appearance of a star that moves rapidly from the northwest to the east-southeast.

At its highest as viewed from Honolulu, the station, Alpha, will be about 74 degrees above the horizon in the northeast sky. For people in Honolulu, that should occur about 8:07 p.m.

On this pass, it will be visible for only a short time — between one and four minutes — depending on the source used to determine its passage time.

The viewing times and angles are slightly different across the state. At Lihu'e, Kaua'i, the space station won't be quite as high in the sky. If Honoka'a, Hawai'i skies are cloud-free, viewers should find the station almost directly overhead at roughly 8:08 p.m.

The space station ranges from about 220 to about 240 miles above Earth, said Larry Wiss, program producer of the Bishop Museum's Star Station One exhibit, which is about the space station and is presented three times daily.

The station's orbit degrades with time, and the space shuttles are used to shove it back into a higher elevation every few months, he said.

The station will be visible several times over the next few days, generally right after sunset. Wiss recommends checking the Web site heavens-above.com, where you can plug in your specific location to get a printable map of the space station's passage. NASA's Web site lists only Honolulu sighting information.

 •  On the Web: NASA: spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/SSapplications/Post/SightingData/Honolulu.html Heavens Above: heavens-above.com