Tim Peake and Saturn through the same window on the same night
While I was preparing to spot Saturn on Wednesday night I spotted the International Space Station cruising past. I waved at Tim Peake but he didn’t wave back. ISS just traversed the sky, west to east, and was gone in a few minutes.
So last night I lay in wait for him as well as Saturn, using the ZWO camera for both, with the wide-angle TV lens for ISS and the Mak150 telescope for Saturn.
Robbie and I watched from Stuart’s bedroom window while the laptop recorded this movie. It’s not very exciting but you can just about make out the ISS as it moves from right to left, from below Jupiter to above Mars (Saturn hasn’t arrived yet) – the ISS dot gets a bit brighter as it rises. What was about 5 minutes in real time is reduced to 50 seconds (and there is a discontinunity after 32s because I forgot the camera was set to take 3 minute sequences!). Click the arrow button (centre) to start the video, then click the full screen icon (top right) to make it bigger if you like.
Timelapse taken from the International Space Station over the earth at an average altitude of 300km (190 miles). Orbiting at 27,600 km/h (17,100 mph), the ISS circles the blue planet in only 90 minutes. This giant space station is equivalent in weight of a Boeing-747.
Saturn wasn’t due in the right place for Stuart’s window until 01:30, but it was exactly at opposition at 01:10 . During the days around opposition Saturn’s rings are expected to brighten a little due to a phenomenon known as the Seeliger effect. Basically, I think, when the sun is directly overhead each particle in Saturn’s rings casts very little shadow on its neighbours – so the rings on the whole appear brighter.