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Monday, May 30, 2022

International Space Station does an encore tonight PLUS (maybe) METEORS!

For the second night, we have good sky tonight for a 6-minute ISS overflight over Charlestown and MAYBE a meteor shower

By Will Collette

This is a short version - typically the ISS covers the whole dome of the sky. With good binoculars or a telescope you can see features on the vessel
As I reported yesterday, bad weather has prevented my reports on ISS overflights of Charlestown. Now we have two in a row and tonight's viewing is longer, higher and earlier. Tonight's National Weather Service forecast is for "partly cloudy" skies with a low temp of 64 degrees.

If there is a meteor shower, it will radiate from the area around the Constellation Bootes in the northern sky, just to the west of the Big Dipper.

We may also be treated to a brand new meteor show. Around 20 years ago, Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, or SW3 broke into pieces. However, tonight, we are going through its debris field for the first time. NASA recommends checking it out around 1 a.m. on the East Coast.

It could be the best meteor show of all time or it could turn out to be a bust. Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office said in a statement:
"This is going to be an all or nothing event. If the debris from SW3 was traveling more than 220 miles per hour when it separated from the comet, we might see a nice meteor shower. If the debris had slower ejection speeds, then nothing will make it to Earth and there will be no meteors from this comet,"
So, a celestial crap-shoot.

But then, we have the reliable ISS which will show up tonight at 9:14 PM at 10 degrees off the northwestern horizon to start a 6 minute journey (almost maximum time) to the east southeast where it will disappear at 17 degrees above the horizon. At its maximum height of 82 degrees it will seem almost directly overhead.

NASA maintains an e-mail list that gives you same-day notification of overflights over your home town. This is the message I received from them this morning:

Time: Mon May 30 9:14 PM, Visible: 6 min, Max Height: 82°, Appears: 10° above NW, Disappears: 17° above ESE