Sky Show: Space Station and noctilucent clouds

Get ready for some great sky watching this week.

Dry high pressure means crystal clear skies, and some interesting sights in the heavens above.

The International Space Station (ISS) will be very bright this week. If you look west after sunset, you will see a very bright object still illuminated in sunlight. This is the space station as it flys by. Here are the times and locations. (Data assumes viewers is in Minneapolis)

Tuesday: Look west from 09:16:46 pm to 09:17:52pm. Elevation above horizon=74° Brightness -3.9 (very bright)

Wednesday: Look west from 09:41:02 pm 09:43:15pm. Elevation above horizon = 33° Brightness -2.5 (very bright)

You can find times for your specific location here.

Noctilucent clouds:

1 a ISS_NLC2_feathered.jpg

Electric blue clouds viewed from the ISS. Photo credit: Don Pettit and NASA TV.

Noctilucent or “night shining” clouds are in season. These sometimes wildly colored clouds are visible now and then on summer nights high in the atmosphere after sunset or before sunrise. The clouds occur in a layer of the atmosphere called the mesosphere between 50 and 85 km high. Temperatures around -125 degrees C allow tiny ice crystals the size of cigarette smoke to catch the sun’s rays after they have set at the observer’s location. Sunlight still illuminates these high altitude clouds after the sun has gone below the observer’s horizon.

1 a nocti.jpg

More on these cool looking clouds here.



  • John Reinert Nash

    Fantastic! Watched it on lawn chairs with my wife and kids.

  • Wondering

    Did it have a tail, as it moved across the sky?

    Was a contrail forming behind the space-station?

  • John Reinert Nash

    No contrail, just a bright point in the sky, scooting quickly and smoothly across. We talked about how there were people up there, and the kids thought it was cool.

  • Jon

    Thanks for the tip, Paul! My five-year-old son and I watched from the Twins game at Target Field.