Teacher Moment #sol21
March 20, 2021
We had all just settled in for our Friday evening. Bob and I were sifting through the stations on the TV, discussing NCAA basketball. Dylan and Sarah were downstairs.
We hear Dylan on the stairs.
Sarah says the International Space Station is passing by and we can see it!
Scrabbling ensues, feet slip into slippers or shoes, coats are recklessly thrown on. In unison we all start heading toward the door.
Sarah, come on! We’re going! Dylan calls down the half flight of stairs.
Door open. We’re all out. Lights start turning on in the darkened yard. First our neighbor’s garage, then ours.
Momentarily we all look around at ground level. Collective sighs.
It’s suppose to be in the Southeast sky.
Our focus shifts to the sky. I can feel the anticipation building.
Southeast is this way.
Dylan checks that on his phone. We shift our gaze. The half moon shines brightly.
Just below the moon we see something blinking.
Is that it?
I say to our new teacher, Sarah, look at you and your teacher moment.
I can feel her smiling even before I turn around. As I turn to look at her, we all catch something out of the corner of our eyes.
It’s moving fast and we all know at the same instant, THIS is the space station.
Voices begin to echo in the growing darkness against the house. There it is!
It’s moving so fast.
Then my husband says, I’ve come out here so many times to see meteors and other things and this, this is the first thing I’ve actually seen.
I feel Sarah smile again.
And why not, she’s a teacher and
the sky’s the limit.
Teacher talk or what I learned later:
The International Space Stations circles the globe every 90 minutes at a speed of 17,500 miles an hour. In comparison a plane flies at roughly 600 miles an hour. Conditions have to be just right to see the ISS from the ground. It has no lights on it as a plane does, so visibility relies on the reflection of light from the sun to the moon to the ISS. Consequently, it is only available to be seen with the naked eye from the ground near sunrise and sunset. Viewing windows range from a minute to seven minutes due to the station’s trajectory. We were fortunate last night to have time to scan, our window of viewing was six minutes. You can read more about this at the ISS website.