Venus is about to be ousted as the brightest star-like object in the night sky. The next space shuttle mission, STS-119 is slated to launch on Wednesday night, March 11 at 9:20 p.m. EDT (1:20 a.m. Thursday March 12 GMT), and astronauts will deliver and install the fourth and final set of solar array wings to the International Space Station. Once the array is deployed, the station will surpass Venus as the brightest object in the night sky, second only to the Moon. The new array will increase the amount of electricity available for science experiments by 50%, providing the power needed for the ISS to house a crew of 6 astronauts instead of the current 3.
I’ve seen an ISS pass, though not for a few years. The coolest one was shortly after I moved to FL in ’97 when the husband and I went down to the beach near dawn to watch a shuttle launch and the ISS passed over shortly after. You can see if the ISS is scheduled to fly over your location within the next 10 days at Heavens Above or just track it at NASA’s shuttle tracking page.
Happy star/object gazing!