Challenger center offers space station viewing tips

Posted Sept. 21, 2009, at 9:14 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Clear September evening skies in Maine are wonderful to gaze upon, and during the week of Sept. 20 there’s an especially interesting reason to grab the family and look upward: the international space station will be passing overhead.

Visible to the naked eye but better seen with binoculars or a telescope, the space station can be seen each night for between one minute and four minutes’ duration, depending on the evening.

“At the precise time listed, the ISS appears and treks across the sky. It’s pretty incredible to watch. Having eight straight evenings of opportunities to see it in Maine is rather unusual, so I’m pretty excited,” said Susan Jonason, executive director of the Challenger Learning Center of Maine.

Jennifer Therrien, the center’s coordinator, noted that 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy.

“We’ve enjoyed sharing many different opportunities to get people to turn their attention to the heavens,” she said.

From 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, the center will host its free bimonthly “Expanding Your Understanding” family forum. This month’s theme is “Family Engineering Challenge,” Therrien said.

“We’ll be sure to encourage all of our attendees to check the sky at 7:59 that night — the ISS will be seen for two full minutes then,” she said.

To get the exact coordinates, times and locations for viewing the space station in Maine, visit: http://spaceflight1.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/ and look for “sighting opportunities.” Enter country, then state, then town and the precise sighting information will be provided.

For more information about the Challenger Learning Center, located at 30 Venture Way, call 990-2900 or visit www.astronaut.org. To learn more about the national Challenger Center for Space Science Education, visit www.challenger.org.

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