When can you see the ISS in front of the sun and moon?
I have been reading this great magazine for many years. I have a request or a suggestion to make "Stars and Space" even more interesting: "SuW" often contains a map of Germany that shows the lines of sight of grazing occultations of stars by the moon. I would love a map showing the lines for observing passages of the International Space Station in front of the sun or in front of the moon. There are always impressive pictures of it to see. And it's definitely very exciting to try something like this yourself. I think there are many star friends who would like that.
Thank you for this suggestion, but unfortunately it doesn't work. The orbit of the International Space Station is about as unpredictable as the weather on the time scale of months to the necessary accuracy. There are several reasons for this: The residual density of the air at the orbital altitude of the ISS, which depends on solar activity – and thus friction – and the lifting maneuvers that cannot be planned well in advance (for which a docked spacecraft must also be available); also the evasive maneuvers of the ISS, which can only be decided at short notice because of space debris and so on.
Transit observations can therefore only be planned on a time scale of one to two days. However, "Stars and Space" has a lead time of around two months: the February issue, for example, appears in mid-January, goes to the presses right before Christmas, and therefore has to be largely editorially finished by mid-December, i.e. one and a half months before the start of the February reporting period.
But if you don't mind the effort, you can always have short-term forecasts for the surroundings of any location on earth made by Chris Peat's wonderful website https://heavens-above.com. The current path data is always used there. Bartosz Wojczynski's website https://transit-finder.com is especially for sun and moon transits.
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