Observing the ISS from Earth

The International Space Station is orbiting our planet since 1998. One orbit takes only approximately 92 minutes and the ISS is sometimes visible at the night-sky. To the naked eye it looks like a bright star crossing the night sky in just a few minutes.

In April 2017 I was visiting my uncle in Almeria, Spain. He has a nice telescope and we were wondering, whether it would be possible to recognize the International Space Station’s shape through the telescope. As it turned out it is possible but not easy: The primary difficulty was to keep the rapidly moving ISS within the telescope’s field of view. Additionally, the video output was very shaky, which made comprehensive post-processing necessary.

If you want to spot the station check out NASA’s website spotthestation.nasa.gov. But first of all enjoy the video which we recorded that night!
Continue reading Observing the ISS from Earth

Get into Orbit Without Lateral Acceleration

When I was about 6 years old, my dad explained to me that there was no possibility to shoot something right into orbit from the Earth’s surface. He said it was always necessary to accelerate sideways to reach orbit. At that time I did not really understand what he meant. However, later in physics class I did and I figured what he had told me was true. Now, 13 years later, I came up with a new thought: The Earth’s rotation adds lateral velocity to objects launched from its surface. This is also the reason why satellites, the ISS and pretty much every artificial object flying around Earth, orbits Earth counterclockwise and also, why most space flight organizations / companies launch their spacecrafts from locations as close to the equator as possible. Continue reading Get into Orbit Without Lateral Acceleration