The International Space Station: 8th Light on the 7th Night

For the second time this Hanukkah, after lighting candles tonight take a look outside and look for a new light in the sky.

The International Space Station will be passing over Philadelphia around 5:48pm. It will be visible for about 3 minutes, passing from West to North-Northeast rising to an elevation of 50 degrees over the horizon.

Presently circling the Earth at an average altitude of 216 miles and at a speed of 17,200 miles per hour, it completes 15.7 orbits per day and it can appear to move as fast as a high-flying jet airliner, sometimes taking about four to five minutes to cross the sky. Because of its size and configuration of highly reflective solar panels, the space station is now, by far, the brightest man-made object currently in orbit around the Earth. On favorable passes, it can appear as bright as the planet Venus, and some 16 times brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. And as a bonus, sunlight glinting directly off the solar panels can sometimes make the ISS appear to briefly “flare” in brilliance to more than 16 times brighter than Venus! (Hayden Planetarium)

Photo of Israel at night as seen from the International Space Station courtesy of NASA.

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