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Space station set for spectacular pass over Oahu Friday night

  • NASAAstronauts aboard the International Space Station snapped this shot of the Hawaiian Islands in October 2010. The station will grace isle skies again tonight but on a different orbital inclination.
    NASA
    Astronauts aboard the International Space Station snapped this shot of the Hawaiian Islands in October 2010. The station will grace isle skies again tonight but on a different orbital inclination.
  • NASA/JPLThe crew of the space station, from left, Mikhail Tyurin, Koichi Wakata, Rick Mastracchio, Sergey Ryazanskiy, Oleg Kotov and Mike Hopkins.
    NASA/JPL
    The crew of the space station, from left, Mikhail Tyurin, Koichi Wakata, Rick Mastracchio, Sergey Ryazanskiy, Oleg Kotov and Mike Hopkins.

If skies are clear — and the National Weather Service says they should be — the International Space Station will make a vivid pass over Honolulu Friday evening.

The space station rises in the southwest about 6:47 p.m. and should be visible a few minutes later, according to heavens-above.com.

The bright moving dot will clip Venus in the southwestern sky just before 6:51 p.m. and pass to the right of a very thin crescent moon about 30 seconds later.

It reaches its highest point just before 6:53 p.m. in the west-northwest, about twice as high as the star Vega in the constellation Lyra. Vega is the brightest star in the sky at the time (the fifth brightest overall), but the space station will be many times brighter.

The space station will then pass under the constellation Cassiopeia, which looks like a flattened M, before blinking out of sight in the northeast just after 6:54 p.m.

Sunset is at 5:49 p.m., so the sky will still have a glow to it, but the space station will be easily visible if the weather cooperates. It does not blink like an airplane with landing lights on, and moves at a steady pace without sound.

The light is reflected sunlight, so the brightness will change slightly with its angle in the sky.

The space station is 230 miles up, moving at 17,000 mph.

Currently on board, as part of Expedition 38, which ends in March, are Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Tyurin, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Oleg Kotov, mission commander; Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, and NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins.

For more information on the pass, go to http://www.heavens-above.com/.

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