Where and when to watch the sky for shuttle, Mir


If pre-dawn skies are clear, Marylanders will get five chances this week and next to see the shuttle Atlantis as it flies over the state on its docking mission with the Russian space station Mir.

Here are the best times to watch from the Baltimore area.

* Friday: Atlantis should appear at 6:29 a.m., 15 degrees above the southern horizon. (The horizon is zero degrees; straight up is 90.) Still docked with Mir, according to NASA's schedule, it will be visible for two minutes.

* Saturday: At 7:09 a.m., Atlantis and Mir should be flying in close formation just hours after undocking. They will appear 15 degrees above the west-southwest, flying toward the northeast as high as 66 degrees. They should be visible for five minutes.

* Sunday: Watch for Atlantis at 6:14 a.m., appearing 32 degrees above the south-southwest, flying toward the east-northeast. It will reach 53 degrees and be visible for four minutes.

* Monday: At 6:53 a.m., Atlantis should appear 19 degrees above the western horizon, flying to a point 15 degrees above the north-northeast. It should be visible for four minutes.

* Tuesday: The earliest sighting opportunity. The shuttle should appear 34 degrees above the northeast horizon at 5:49 a.m. Moving downward toward a spot 15 degrees above the horizon, it will be visible for only one minute.

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