I shot this video of the ISS passing over on Friday, 26th May 2017 at around 22:30 – 23:30hrs from my back garden using the software app Heavens Above to locate and track it.
Identifying the Mystery Bright Object in the South
I was initially trying to identify a particularly bright object that caught my attention in the south at about 45 degrees elevation – just above my house roof. I hadn’t noticed this bright object before and it got me curious. So I nipped on the Google app store and started looking for sky map apps. I tried one or two that didn’t work too well and then I found Heavens Above.
After 20 minutes or more fighting to get the compass calibrated on my phone, I realised I had a magnetic clasp on my phone case – a rather embarrassing DOH moment. Having removed the phone from the case the compass quickly calibrated and I was able to identify with the help of Heavens Above that the mystery object was Jupiter.
ISS Passing Over as Bright as Jupiter
Shortly after identifying Jupiter, another equally bright object appeared into view from the West / South West which tracked along the sky in an Easterly / North Easterly direction. A quick glimpse at the Heavens Above app identified this to be the ISS.
I suspect the reason for both objects being particularly bright are due to the time of year and the position they happened to be in. It is coming into Summer time in the UK now so the sun doesn’t go very low below the horizon and it doesn’t get dark until well after 22:30 – sometimes it stays more or less dusk until very late.
I am Very Impressed with the Heavens Above App
I have to say I’m very impressed with the heavens above app. It is very informative and easy to use. What was only meant to be 5 minutes identifying a mysteriously bright object in the night sky turned into a rather lengthy sky watching session. From watching the ISS passing over to other interesting celestial objects you would never otherwise realise were there!
No sooner had the ISS passed over than other interesting objects began popping up on the Heavens Above sky chart. Old spent rocket boosters, satellites, debris and other cool things.
Other Mystery Space Objects
But what really peaked my interest were the objects I spotted passing over in the night sky that weren’t shown on Heavens Above. What could they all be I wonder……
It made me think about a story I read in the papers the other week about mystery objects maneuvering themselves about in the space debris field prompting speculation that they could be dormant spy satellites which sit around for years with no activity so observers think they are junk. But every once in a while they come to life and move in ways that space junk shouldn’t.