Watch cargo ship “chase” International Space Station this week

Our cloudy skies often obscure a sight much of the rest of America’s stargazers take in regularly: the passage overhead of the International Space Station.

This week, however, weather will cooperate.   Plus there’s an added bonus!

The Japanese cargo ship HTV-4 was launched Saturday, Aug. 3 bringing more than three tons of food, supplies and hardware to the International Space Station.

HTV-4 even includes a talking robot named Kirobo.

The cargo ship will dock with the ISS in the early hours of Friday morning.

Throughout this week leading up to docking, HTV-4 will be “chasing” the ISS, eventually meeting up with the station at the proper altitude.

With clear skies, we’ll have great opportunities for viewingboth spacecraft every evening!

Using the interface at SpaceWeather.com, Seattle’s first opportunity to view both the ISS and HTV-4 will come tonight (Tuesday).

How to read this viewing chart

Begin by looking at the direction shown at the time of the spacecraft rise.   The spacecraft will look like “stars” moving at a pretty good clip upward in the sky.  In fact, the International Space Station will be very bright, much like Jupiter or Venus as seen as the “morning” or “evening star”.

The transit of each vehicle through our sky will take from two to six minutes.

The highest point is determined in degrees of elevation from the horizon, with 90° being directly overhead.   Ex., 45° would be halfway up in the sky.

Tue. Aug 6 – (information for Seattle; all times Pacific)

  • HTV-4   Rises: 9:44 pm in SSW sky.  Highest point of 39° at 9:47 pm.  Magnitude 0.2 (bright)
  • ISS  Rises 10:45 pm in W sky.  Highest point of 68° at 10:49 pm.  Mag. -3.8 (very bright)
  • HTV-4  Rises 11:18 pm in W sky.  Highest point of 26° at 11:20 pm.  Mag. 1.1 (visible)

Wed. Aug. 7

  • ISS  Rises: 12:23 am in WNW sky.  Highest point of 32° at 12:26 am.  Mag. -2.4 (very bright)
  • HTV-4  Rises: 9:50 pm in WSW sky.  Highest point of 76° at 9:52 pm.  Mag. -0.9 (very bright)
  • ISS  Rises: 9:57 pm in WSW sky.  Highest point of 88° at 10:00 pm.  Mag. -4.0 (very bright)
  • HTV-4  Rises: 11:24 pm in WNW sky.  Highest point of 26° at 11:27 pm.  Mag. 1.1 (visible)
  • ISS  Rises: 11:34 pm in W sky.  Highest point of 41° at 11:37 pm.  Mag. -2.9 (very bright)

Thu. Aug. 8

  • ISS  Rises: 9:08 pm in WSW sky.  Highest point of 60° at 9:12 pm.  Mag. -3.6 (very bright)
  • HTV-4  Rises: 9:56 pm in W sky.  Highest point of 62° at 9:58 pm.  Mag. -0.7 (very bright)
  • ISS  Rises: 10:45 pm in W sky.  Highest point of 45° at 10:48 pm.  Mag. -3.1 (very bright)

Fri. Aug. 9  (HTV-4 docks with ISS at 4:29 am Pacific Time, delivers cargo, then undocks)

  • ISS  Rises: 12:22 am in WNW sky.  Highest point of 26° at 12:26 am.  Mag. -1.9 (very bright)
  • ISS  Rises:  9:57 pm in W sky.  Highest point of 54° at 10:00 pm.  Mag. -3.5 (very bright)
  • HTV-4  Rises: 10:02 pm in W sky.  Highest point of 42° at 10:04 pm.  Mag. 0.0 (very bright)
  • ISS  Rises: 11:34 pm in WNW sky.  Highest point of 40° at 11:37 pm.  Mag. -2.9 (very bright)

Sat. Aug. 10

  • ISS  Rises: 9:08 pm in WSW sky.  Highest point of 71° at 9:11 pm.  Mag. -3.9 (very bright)
  • HTV-4  Rises: 10:08 pm in W sky.  Highest point of 33° at 10:11 pm.  Mag. -0.5 (very bright)
  • ISS  Rises: 10:45 pm in WNW sky.  Highest point of 39° at 10:48 pm.  Mag. -2.9 (very bright)

Sun. Aug. 11

  • HTV-4  Rises: 8:40 pm in W sky.  Highest point of 65° at 8:42 pm.  Mag. -0.7 (very bright)
  • ISS  Rises: 9:56 pm in W sky.  Highest point of 41° at 10:00 pm.  Mag. -2.9 (very bright)
  • HTV-4  Rises: 10:14 pm in WNW sky.  Highest point of 30° at 10:17 pm.  Mag. 0.7 (bright)
  • ISS  Rises: 11:33 pm in WNW sky.  Highest point of 43° at 11:36 pm.  Mag. -3.0 (very bright)

Enjoy the show!  MP

Amazing “superior mirage” causes homes to look like condo towers

(Adapted from my post at KIROTV.com on June 22, 2013.)

A phenomenon sometimes seen on the waters of Puget Sound was photographed by Greg Johnson of SkunkBayWeather.com Saturday afternoon and emailed to me.

“These are 1 and 2 story homes about 7 miles away,” he writes.

Shooting from near Hansville on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula looking northeast to Mutiny Bay on Whidbey Island, Greg captured a superior mirage.

[FULL IMAGE]

How does this happen?

Superior mirage on Whidbey Island, WA (Photo: Greg Johnson/SkunkBayWeather.com)

With a warm afternoon, light wind and a chilly body of water, a shallow layer of cool air will actually ride on top of the water with warmer air above.

This “inversion” layer of cool air actually causes a bending of light rays, just as rays of light are bent by glass when entering a large camera lens.   The light reflected by a life-size object is bent at such an angle as to be detected by a small frame or sensor in the camera.

Our eyes have lenses and work the same way.

In a superior mirage, the much more subtle bending of light by the dense cold layer of air atop the water causes objects to appear “stretched” vertically.

Last year, Greg produced this amazing daylong video which illustrates the formation and evolution of a superior mirage in the same location as Saturday’s.

As subtle air currents change the depth of the cold air layer lying atop the water, the mirage changes noticably.

Another great example of nature’s beauty (and strangeness) in the Northwest!

Social media strategy with Sree Sreenivasan [video]

The Dirty Secret of Social Media

The Dirty Secret of Social Media

Social media guru Sree Sreenivasan spoke to several hundred of us media and technology types at the University of Washington on Mar. 18.

The event was sponsored by @AAJA, @spjwash, @sajaHQ @seattletimes, and @commlead.

It was a packed house, and the hashtag #sreeattle was not only the #1 trending topic in Seattle but also was trending nationally.

Sree is a well-known evangelist of the very best practices in social media.   I’ll be going through my eight-plus pages of notes for a while.

The slideshow of his three-plus hour presentation can be accessed here.  I also have a Youtube video of his formula to social media success.

Below is the entire presentation in several clips.  The theme is “Always be collecting.” (Other interstitial video content accessible here.)

Watch live streaming video from mcdm at livestream.com

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Watch live streaming video from mcdm at livestream.com

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