The International Space Station

The International Space Station (NASA / April 6, 2012)

The International Space Station is making several passes over Maryland this week, a handful of which will be visible in the night sky so long as skies stay clear.

Some nights the spacecraft will appear brighter than others, and some nights its flyover will be cut short when it passes into the Earth's shadow and turns dark. In general, it will be on a path from the northwest horizon to the southeast each night.

Here are instructions on when and where to look for it over the next week:

  • Tuesday night, it will appear in the northwest about 11:02 p.m., but will only be visible for about 3 minutes before it disappears overhead.
  • Wednesday night, it will appear at about 10:13 p.m., moving from the northwest toward the southeast on the northern side of the sky until it enters Earth's shadow at 10:18 p.m.
  • Friday night, look northwest about 10:11 p.m. The space station will enter the earth's shadow about 5 minutes later.
  • Saturday night, the space station will take one of its longest and brightest flyovers of the week. It will appear in the northwest about 9:22 p.m. and make it nearly all the way to the southeast horizon before disappearing just before 9:29 p.m.
  • Monday, the space station will hug the western horizon, rising just near Venus and then passing by Saturn, from 9:21 p.m. to 9:27 p.m.

The space station appears as bright or brighter than many stars, moving swiftly across the sky like an airplane, but appearing much further away.

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Karen L. Nyberg are on board, in a mission being led by Pavel Vinogradov, a Russian cosmonaut. Follow Nyberg on Twitter for updates and images of Earth from above. She is a mother of a 3-year-old boy and is spending six months in space.