watching space stations dance

If you’re in Southern California on January 5th, you might get a chance to see two space stations in the sky at the same time. (Pretty cool, right?)

If it’s clear enough, and if I’ve read the magnitudes and times and directions correctly on Heavens Above, here’s what I’ll be doing that night:

  1. At 5:00pm I’ll go outside and stand in a nice dark spot. (I live in the middle of San Diego, so that takes a few minutes to find.)
  2. At 5:05 I’ll look to the northwest for a bright object moving toward the northeast. If it’s moving slowly and not blinking, it’s the International Space Station. Population: 6. I’ll wave to Daniel, Anton, Anatoli, Oleg, Donald, and AndrĂ©.
  3. At 5:07, when the ISS is as far up as it’ll get in the northeastern sky, I’ll look to the southwest for a dimmer object moving toward the northeast. If it’s moving slowly and not blinking, it’s Tiangong 1, the first part of China’s space station. Population: 0 so far.
  4. Until about 5:10, when Tiangong 1 is right overhead and ISS drops below the eastern horizon, I’ll watch the two of them share the sky.

Thanks to Allan Manangan for passing along the news from David Dickinson on Twitter.