ISS transiting Jupiter

From: Denis Denissenko (
Date: Fri Apr 29 2005 - 15:25:44 EDT

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    Dear all,
    I have noticed from Heavens-Above that we will have close approaches of 
    ISS to Jupiter here in Moscow on May 6, 8, 9 and 10.  An especially 
    close hit is on May 6th with transit path crossing city center!  I 
    remember people reports of seeing ISS in the telescope while watching 
    Mars during the great opposition in 2003, but haven't heard of Jupiter 
    or Saturn transits at our latitude (55.7N) in last years.  I figured out 
    it has to do with visible elevation of planets compared to ISS.  Indeed, 
    the Station never gets higher than 36-38 deg above southern horizon here 
    in Moscow.  I have plotted three curves showing the maximum possible 
    elevation of ISS vs latitudes north of 51.6 for orbital heights of 350, 
    370 and 390 km: (9K)
    And the maximum elevation of planet is 90-Lat+Dec.  During the 2003 
    opposition Mars was in Aquarius at declinations of -13..-16 reaching 
    elevations 18..21 deg above horizon.  Obviously, ISS could transit the 
    red planet during some passes.  But Jupiter and especially Saturn were 
    too high for station to reach them.  Saturn was in Gemini at declination 
    +22 and two last oppositions of Jupiter were Feb 2003 in Cancer at +18 
    and Mar 2004 in Leo at +8.
    It turns out this year we have a rare (for 55N latitude) opportunity to 
    catch ISS crossing Jupiter.  Here is another plot showing the elevation 
    of Jupiter vs latitude for declinations of +8 (2004), -2.5 (May 2005) 
    and -13 deg (2006): (10K)
    Transits can be seen to the left of ISS elevation curve crossing 
    corresponding line.  It is clear from the graph that last year "Jovian 
    transits" were only possible to the south of 54.5 latitude.  This year 
    the visibility region has moved north of 56th parallel, and in 2006 they 
    will be visible as north as Sankt-Peterburg (of course, at lower elevation).
    I am hoping to catch the May 6th transit on video.  Current predictions 
    give the path 4-4.5 km north of the Sternberg's Astronomy Institute at 
    Moscow University and 1.5 km south from Moscow Astronomy Club at about 
    23:13 local time (19:13 UT).  I can try Sony handycam with 20x 
    magnification giving 1.7x2.3 deg FOV.  If the path moves closer to 
    Astroclub, we can use a KPC-350BH (Supercircuits PC164C) camera with a 
    small telescope recording the image to the same Sony videocamera or to 
    notebook.  We want to get an image similar to the one shown on 
    iss-transit page!
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