German satellite to fall to Earth. Here's how to watch it.
German satellite: A decommissioned German X-Ray space observatory about the size of a minivan is falling to Earth. With a dark sky, you can see it as it gradually descends.
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Ted Molczan, the moderator of the SeeSat Internet mailing list, utilized 12 sets of orbital elements obtained from the U.S. Strategic Command to derive a possible window for re-entry. His calculations suggest that ROSAT could re-enter anytime from Oct. 22 to 24.Skip to next paragraph
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So these are the final days to catch a glimpse of the German satellite before it makes its fiery plunge through Earth’s atmosphere. This week, ROSAT should be visible at dusk as an evening object across most of North America, as well as Europe.
So what is the viewing schedule for your particular hometown? You can easily find out by visiting one of these two web sites:
Each will ask for your zip code or city, and respond with a list of suggested spotting times. Predictions computed a few days ahead of time are usually accurate within a few minutes. However, they will certainly change due to the increasing decay of ROSAT's orbit. (So it is very important that you check frequently for updates.)
Another great site is this one, which provides real-time satellite tracking and shows you at any given moment during the day or night over what part of the Earth ROSAT happens to be.
Editor's note: If you snap a great image of based on the skywatching website data above and would like to share it for a possible image gallery or story, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The New York Times and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, New York.
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