Look up and wave to David Saint-Jacques aboard the International Space Station

If you have clear skies, you can spot the International Space Station, carrying Canada’s newest astronaut, and give him a wave.

Many Canadians will be able to spot the station for almost 2 weeks

The International Space Station will be visible across Canada, usually in the evening, for almost two weeks. Unlike a plane, the station has no blinking lights. (NASA)

If you have clear skies, you can wave at Canada's newest astronaut as he sails across the sky aboard the International Space Station.

David Saint-Jacques arrived safely at the station on Monday with U.S. astronaut Anne McClain and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko.

This is Saint-Jacques' first trip into space after being recruited in 2009 alongside Jeremy Hansen.

The trio joins three others: German Alexander Gerst, American Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Russian Sergey Prokopyev.

The six-member crew of NASA's Expedition 58, from left Serena Aunon-Chancellor, David Saint-Jacques, Alexander Gerst, Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain and Sergey Prokopyev, gather for a portrait. (NASA)

How do you know it's the space station and not a plane? The biggest hint: if the object has blinking lights, it's a plane. As well, the station seems to move more slowly than a plane.

The ISS is visible because light reflects off its solar panels. The location of the station and the angle the light hits the panels make the brightness vary.

It turns out the timing is just right to see our newest astronaut. Right across Canada, if the weather permits, you can see the bright light of the orbiting laboratory cross the night sky in the early evening over the next 10 days.

Times and locations

In Vancouver and Victoria, step out tonight around 5:15 p.m. PT and you can wave to Saint-Jacques as the station rises in the west, passing almost above you around 5:21 p.m. This is a particularly bright pass, and you're unlikely to miss it.

In Calgary and Edmonton, Saint-Jacques and crew pass around 6:17 p.m. MT from west to east and directly overhead. This pass is even brighter than the Vancouver one. The station disappears just before reaching the eastern horizon.

Those in Regina and Saskatoon get a bright pass as well. The ISS will rise in the west around 5:45 p.m. CT and pass overhead around 5:48 p.m.

Saint-Jacques waits to have the pressure of his Russian Sokol suit checked in preparation for the launch on Monday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Aubrey Gemignani/NASA)

Winnipeggers should head out around 5:45 p.m. CT to catch a glimpse as it passes from west to east.

In Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, if the skies are clear, head out around 5:12 p.m. ET for a five-minute pass. Though this is not a super-bright pass, the ISS will be easy to spot as it crosses the Big Dipper around 5:14 p.m.

In Atlantic Canada you can see the ISS pass around 6:15 p.m. AT before disappearing at 6:18 p.m. right under the Big Dipper. A better opportunity is Thursday when it rises around 5:20 p.m. and crosses most of the sky from the northwest to the northeast.

The North isn't left out: In Iqaluit the ISS will pass low on the horizon from southwest to southeast, going directly under Mars before disappearing.

And in Whitehorse, you can see the ISS on Wednesday from 5:14 p.m. PT. The station will pass low on the horizon, passing directly under Mars around 5:20 p.m.

And finally, in Yellowknife the six astronauts cross the sky Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. MT in almost the exact location as in Whitehorse.

The station will be visible in the night sky for about 10 days, depending on your location. A few days before Christmas it switches to the morning sky.

For details of other days to catch the station, you can visit Heavens Above and enter you location. You can click on a date that will provide you with a map along with the times. And, of course, there's always NASA's Spot the Station.


Nicole Mortillaro

Senior Reporter, Science

Nicole has an avid interest in all things science. As an amateur astronomer, Nicole can be found looking up at the night sky appreciating the marvels of our universe. She is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the author of several books.


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