Social Media Links

Find us on Facebook

Confirming ISS Solar Transit

We are on for this morning’s solar transit of the International Space Station, despite the clouds. We are betting that, the clouds will filter too much light to allow seeing surface details on the Sun, but not enough light to block a clear view of the space station’s silhouette.


Meet at the City of Augusta’s Youth Memorial Park, behind the Buker Community Center, which is at 22 Armory Street in Augusta. Most people know where the Armory is on Route 202 (below the airport, across from Shaw’s Supermarket). Armory Street is directly across from the armory; Buker is the former school building on the right. If you drive past Buker and turn right on Capitol Street, you’ll find us in the field behind Buker. You may have to turn right on Alden Avenue to find us.

Sunday, May 6, 2018 — 9:17am Transit

Youth Memorial Park, Augusta, Maine
(Behind 22 Armory Street, Augusta, Maine)

CMAS admits that the timing of this transit is tight, with setup starting a mere twelve hours after the start of the prior night’s star party at Brower Observatory, but we only watch these events; we do not compel NASA about when to schedule them. At 9:17am, the International Space Station will fly in front of the Sun, but only as seen from a truly narrow patch of real estate that just happens to be within not too many miles of many CMASians’ homes. Fortuitously, in all the world, publicly accessible Capitol Park happens to be dead-center perfect for viewing this transit. Most CMASians would not be able to see this transit from their homes.

As with all solar viewing, this one requires special solar filters that many CMASians happen to have. Do not attempt to view the Sun without the proper solar filters! If you do not know exactly what those are and/or have not safely viewed the Sun before, come to the party to learn how. Leftover eclipse glasses from last summer would almost certainly not show the tiny ISS against the Sun, because they were designed for direct viewing, and can not be used with magnification. With even a small telescope, the solar panels and body of the space station should be plainly visible!

To be fair, this is a somewhat nerdy event. The ISS will pass across the Sun in literally the blink of an eye. Sunday’s opportunity lies in Brian’s intent to capture the transit through his telescope with a video camera. This should allow many observers to be able share the magnified view of the transit, in real time, while crowding around the display of his laptop. We should, additionally, be able to replay the transit in slow motion, after most of us barely see or miss it!

For those of us hoping to see the transit at the eyepiece, if we blink, we lose! Unlike observing at most star parties, where many observers can view the same eternal sights one after another, this event necessarily requires each observer determined to see the transit at the eyepiece to use a separate telescope, because it passes so quickly.

So, bring your solar filtered telescopes if you have them, or crowd around the laptop if you don’t! This is a rare opportunity to see something cool, with a bit of technology revealing events that are otherwise hidden from our view. You weren’t planning to sleep in on Sunday morning after Saturday night’s star party anyway, were you?

Comments are closed.