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May 27, 2009

Space Station Flares intense but not a mystery

Often the SpaceWeather News arrives a day late but is always timely for astronomical events...

Space Weather News for May 26, 2009

SPACE STATION FLARES: Lately, a growing number of observers are reporting intense "flares" coming from the International Space Station (ISS). During some night time flybys, the luminosity of the space station surges 10-fold or more. Some people have witnessed flares of magnitude -8 or twenty-five times brighter than Venus.

A movie featured on today's edition of shows what is happening: sunlight glints from the station's recently expanded solar arrays in a shadow-casting flash.

Currently, the flares are unpredictable. You watch a flyby not knowing if one will happen or how bright it might be. That's what makes the hunt for "ISS flares" so much fun. Sky watchers in North America should be alert for flares this week. The ISS is making a series of evening passes over many US and Canadian towns and cities.

Flyby times are available from Simple Satellite Tracker.

Would you like a phone call when the ISS is about to fly over your hometown? Sign up for Space Weather Phone!

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