Tuesday, August 01, 2006

See the Genesis-1 spacecraft tonight in Chicago

The inflatable and privately-owned Genesis-1 spacecraft will be visible tonight from Chicago. It was built by Bigelow Aerospace, headquartered in Las Vegas (my hometown).

The spacecraft rises in the northwest at 10:08PM, and passes the Big Dipper on its way to its maximum altitude of 62 degrees above the horizon in the southwest, above Arcturus, at 10:12PM. It enters the Earth's shadow at 10:13.

It should appear as a faint star, not much brighter than the faintest stars you can see (in Chicago), so get away from light sources and let you eyes adapt. It would be dimmer than most of the stars in the Big Dipper. Binoculars should help.

Don't confuse it with the Helios 1A rocket, which will be visible at nearly the same place and same time. You will be able to discern between them because the rocket body is moving to the north while Genesis-1 will be moving south-ish.

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