On Sunday evening, as I was talking with that handsome man in Ireland, discussing current events as we usually do, I happened to gaze out of my large living room window. Even though the remains of another magnificent spring sunset still lingered in form of a red line above the horizon in the northwest, the southwest which I was facing, appeared by now dark.
That is when I saw it. It took me a few seconds to piece together the visual information received at that very moment with the one I read online a few days ago. Still, eventually I knew exactly what I was looking at. It was a sight like I have never witnessed before.
A majestic bright object, resembling the biggest star that I have ever seen, was moving across the dark sky. Without a sound, effortlessly and with a constant speed, it was crossing the southwest horizon as the largest object in the jet black heavens. If I did not know better, I could have sworn I was witnessing a UFO sighting.
However, I was seeing the International Space Station (ISS), definitely an 'identified flying object' and a man made one as well. Additionally, right after the moon, the largest orbiter of our Earth. I was holding my breath as it moved in a easterly direction, feeling very fortunate to have gazed out of my windows at the exactly right moment, to watch something that is rare and to me - extremely enticing.
Those of you who have read my many posts in the past know well that I am infinitely fascinated by the evening sky. There is nothing more captivating than watching the dark blanket above us, covered with zillions light specks of varied size and intensity. Knowing they are all part of distant and not so distant galaxies intrigues me. There is no other time, when the space seems more infinite and vast, then under the dark veil of the night.
I fall asleep under the shine of stars, as I watch them in my roof top window. If I gaze at that small part of heavens for a short while, I can witness shooting stars and orbiting satellites. But I have never seen the Space Station until now.
Such a sighting is indeed rare and requires specific conditions to be in place. As stated by the wikipedia: "The station must be above the observer's horizon, and it must pass within about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) of the observation site (the closer the better). It must be dark enough at the observer's location for stars to be visible, and the station must be in sunlight rather than in the Earth's shadow."
Operated as a joint project between the five participant space agencies, the ISS serves as a research laboratory that has a microgravity environment in which crews conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology. The ISS is operated by Expedition crews; as of 18 March 2010, the crew of Expedition 23 is aboard.
My sighting of the Space Station the other night is the closest that I have come to observe something out of the ordinary in the skies. Except for one summer afternoon last year, when white, semi transparent globe moved high above me in an organized fashion; constant speed and direction. I gazed at it for a long time trying to solve its origins; perhaps it was a balloon or something else that can easily be explained. But perhaps not. Eventually, the fascination lies in the unexplained.
What about you, have any of you ever seen something infinitely intriguing, either identified or unidentified in the skies?