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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Sky over Scottsdale - International Space Station, Fireworks, Lightning

What can you do on a Saturday night when there is nothing to watch on TV? Tonight we turned to the sky.

First, we watched the International Space Station streak by.

The International Space Station looks like an airplane or a very bright star moving across the sky. However, it does not have flashing lights or change direction. It also move considerately faster than a typical airplane. Airplanes generally fly approximately 600 miles per hour while the Space Station flies at 17,500 miles per hour.

All sightings of the Space Station occur within a few hours before or after sunrise or sunset. This is the optimum viewing period as the Sun reflects off the space station and contrasts against the darker sky. The Space Station is visible because it reflects the light of the Sun – the same reason we can see the Moon. However, unlike the Moon, the Space Station isn’t bright enough to see during the day. It can only be seen when it is dawn or dusk at your location. As such, it can range from one sighting opportunity a month to several a week, since it has to be both dark where you are, and the space station has to happen to be going overhead.

It needs to be dark where you are and the Space Station needs to be overhead in order for you to see it. Since the Space Station’s orbit takes it all around the globe, it can be passing over you at times when it will not be visible- either in the middle of the day or the middle of the night. The Space Station must be 40 degrees or more above the horizon for it to be visible.

Tonight, we could see it from 8:48 PM to 8:50 PM. Tomorrow night, we will be able to see it from 7:55 PM to 7:59 PM.

You can see the space station with your bare eyes, no equipment required.

The International Space Station circles the Earth every 90 minutes. It gives the crew 16 sunrises and sunsets every day. In the more than 15 years that people have been living on-board, the Station has circumnavigated the Earth tens of thousands of times.

The current station crew are: Jack Fischer, Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, Peggy Whitson, Paolo Nespoli, Randy Bresnik and Sergey Ryazanskiy.

Here is a short bio of Peggy Whitson. "Peggy A. Whitson (Ph.D.) is currently part of Expedition 50/51, which is her third long-duration mission to the International Space Station. Whitson and her crewmates, Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet launched on November 17, 2016. The Iowa native completed two six-month tours of duty aboard the station for Expedition 5 in 2002, and as the station commander for Expedition 16 in 2008. She has accumulated 377 days in space between the two missions, the most for any U.S. woman at the time of her return to Earth. Whitson has also performed six spacewalks, totaling 39 hours and 46 minutes."

Around nine o'clock, we watched the fireworks from the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort.

When the temperatures are staying around 100 degrees or higher, the area resorts try to attract the locals with "staycation" deals. This deal at the Fairmont Princess sounds very interesting.

Splash into a birthday bash filled with six sparkling pools, including our largest and newest, Sunset Beach, complete with 830 tons of pure white sand and two rip-roaring 200 ft. waterslides at Sonoran Splash. As we celebrate the past 30 years as Scottsdale’s original endless summer staycation destination, experience cool decade-themed parties, Dive-in movies, mermaid swims for both kids and adults, Techno Glo pool parties with DJ Splash, lagoon fishing, nature walks and more. Then join us as we look to the future with fun new virtual adventure rides and interactive TechnoBots. And of course no birthday party is complete without sweet treats and fireworks every Saturday night all summer long!

Package Includes:

Luxuriously appointed overnight accommodations in a standard Fairmont room

$50 daily resort credit


Between Thursday, May 25, 2017 and Monday, September 04, 2017


Rates starting from $169 for standard Fairmont room

Upgrade to a Sunset Beach or Casita Signature room for just $30 more ($199) Upgrade to a Casita Junior Suite for just $60 more ($229)

The Summer Splash Birthday Bash Package is valid for booking Saturday, April 1, 2017 to Sunday, September 3, 2017. Available for summer stays from Thursday, May 25, 2017 through Monday, September 4, 2017. Blackout dates may apply.

How do you beat fireworks as seen from our house? Of course, it is Mother Nature"s lightning storm.

Lightning is an electrical discharge caused by imbalance between storm clouds and the ground, or within the clouds themselves. Most lightning occurs within the clouds.

"Sheet lightning" describes a distant bolt that lights up an entire cloud base. other visible bolts may appear as bead, ribbon or rocket lightning.

During a storm, colliding particles of rain, ice or snow inside storm clouds increase the imbalance between storm clouds and the ground, and often negatively charge the lower reaches of storm clouds. Objects on the ground, like steeples, trees and the Earth itself, become positively charged which creates an imbalance that nature seeks to remedy by passing current between the two charges.

Lightning is extremely hot. A flash may heat the air around it to temperatures five times hotter than the sun's surface.This heat causes surrounding air to rapidly expand and vibrate, which causes the pealing thunder we hear a short time after seeing a lightning flash.

Lightning is not only spectacular; it's dangerous. Worldwide, about 2,000 people are killed by lightning every year. Many people survive the strikes but may suffer from memory loses, dizziness, weakness or other life altering ailments. A lightning strike may cause severe burns or cardiac arrest.

What a wonderful two hour show Mother Nature put on for us!

For the last few weeks, storms have affected other areas of The Valley. From our house, we just get to watch the lightning shows and storms but not get the rains.

What would have made the evening even more special and complete would have been to see the Perseid Meteor Shower that we saw on Friday, August 11. We saw three extremely bright meteors streak by in a five minute period of time. Such fun to lay in our pool, look up at the sky, see a "shooting star" and make a wish.

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