Time zones and the night sky

I was very excited this morning, because the ISS (International Space Station) was visible in the early morning sky, directly overhead. It is always up there, but not always visible where I am located. And, in case you didn’t know, I am kind of a space ranger. I like to know things about space, spacecraft, and especially the night sky.

So, early this morning, there was a 4:46 am viewing for 6 minutes. BAM! Done. Most days  All days, I am not up at 4:46 am. And I am not one to crawl out of my warm bed just to look at the sky. (There was a time we did get up, drive to a clear viewing location and watch the ISS, only to find out it orbits every 1 hr17 min, and is visible OFTEN in normally sane hours, like before I go to bed). Nowadays, it would have to be pretty spectacular for me to do that!!

With that caveat, why was I excited about this particular viewing at this very early time? Well, we are on a biggo fly fishing road trip, and we had a great day on a local river (OK, not really local, but in the adjacent state). I agreed, under great duress, to rise at 3:45 am, drink a cup of coffee, and drive an hour to be on this river before the sun gets on the water. I was promised breakfast upon our return!! That did it.

So, I was going to be on the road in Big Sky country at 4:46 am. I even set an alarm to remind me to look up so that I wouldn’t miss it.

Well, a funny thing happens with time zones. The light and darkness of a particular time varies SIGNIFICANTLY from the center of a time zone (like where I normally reside) and the edges of a time zone, like 33 miles into Big Sky country. Needless to say, it was full on light outside. It did not look like 4:46 am and it was actually 5:46 am as soon as we crossed the Continental Divide.

I’m sure we could have seen the ISS, had we stopped and studied the sky. But, since we were en route to the preferred fishing location prior to the sun getting on the water, we drove on.

No ISS sighting for me. There will be another day…er night to see it!

I also want to see the Northern Lights, I think I may need to get up real early for that one!!