Double pass by ISS and Discovery Weds. ... maybe

If the clouds would only part for a little while Wednesday evening, Marylanders would get a rare opportunity to watch as the International Space Station and the shuttle Discovery fly over Baltimore, one right after the other.

Discovery and its crew undocked today (Tuesday) from the space station, in preparation for their return to Earth Thursday evening. In the meantime, they will be flying more or less in tandem with the station.


It's not immediately clear which would pass over first. But here (below) is the information for the ISS flyby. My advice would be to step outside a few minutes earlier in case Discovery drops to a lower orbit and gets out in front of the station. Or, hang around for a few minutes afterwards and watch for Discovery to follow in the station's wake.

But the tracks should be the same. If you see both at the same time, Discovery will be the dimmer of the two. I've seen that twice. It's a kick.

Here's a photo of Tuesday night's pass, shot from Ontario, Canada, by Kevin Fetter. Discovery seems to have been out in front of the ISS.


For Baltimore Wednesday evening, the space station will rise above the western horizon at 8:05 p.m., moving swiftly toward the northeast like a bright, steady star. It will climb to about two-thirds of the way between the northwest horizon and the zenith (straight up) by 8:08 p.m., then head off toward the northeast, disappearing at about 8:12 p.m.

The Baltimore forecast, unfortunately, isn't very promising. But maybe the coastal storm will move far enough east to allow our skies to clear a bit. We have seen a few sunny breaks today.

Good luck, and come back here after the show and let others know what they missed.

(NASA Photo)