UFO? No, it's just the International Space Station

May 05, 2009 By John Keilman
International Space Station

As a public service, Art Maurer would like you to know that the bright light you might see skimming across the early morning sky later this week is not a UFO.

Maurer runs the planetarium at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill., and in that job he hears quite a bit of chatter about extraterrestrials. He's not much of a believer in little green men from Mars, so when he noticed that the International -- recently outfitted with a new set of reflective solar panels -- would be particularly visible later this week, he thought it best to toss out a peremptory bucket of cold water.

"If somebody starts giving you these calls (about UFOs), it's the ," he said. "This is going to be bright enough that people will say, 'Oh, this must be a flying saucer.' It's just our own flying saucer."

The space station in March added its final two . NASA says the extra energy they generate will allow the station to double its crew to six, and to fully power its science experiments.

The panels also added to the brightness of the station as observed from Earth, though spokesman Kyle Herring didn't think the difference was dramatic.

Herring said it will look like "a fast-moving star" but isn't likely to be mistaken for an alien craft. Maurer, who said he has seen the planet Venus and the star Sirius labeled as UFOs, wasn't so certain.

"There are nearly 30 or 40 flying saucers reported every night in this country," he said.

___

(c) 2009, Chicago Tribune.
Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at www.chicagotribune.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: After Rosetta, Japanese mission aims for an asteroid in search of origins of Earth's water

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Station to Pass Over Washington, D.C. This July 4th

Jul 03, 2006

This year, the hundreds of thousands of people gathered to watch fireworks on Washington's National Mall will see one extra light in the sky. If clouds don't obscure it, the International Space Station will ...

Discovery Separates From Space Station

Aug 06, 2005

After more than a week of working together in space, the Space Shuttle Discovery and International Space Station crews bid each other farewell tonight. Space Shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Spa ...

Roscosmos Calls For Launch Swaps And Bigger ISS Crew

Mar 15, 2006

The director of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said Tuesday that cosmonauts in the next few years would begin flying to the International Space Station aboard NASA shuttles, and U.S. astronauts would fly aboard Russian ...

Recommended for you

SDO captures images of two mid-level flares

59 minutes ago

The sun emitted a mid-level flare on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:58 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts ...

Why is Venus so horrible?

7 hours ago

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

10 hours ago

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

10 hours ago

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

11 hours ago

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Tomen8r
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2009
It's been a treat watching the ISS fly overhead during the evening hours here in Northern New England. It is especially brilliant when a space shuttle is attached, looking like a fast moving light bulb zipping across the sky. I can't wait to see how the ISS looks with the new solar panels attached!
CreepyD
2.5 / 5 (2) May 05, 2009
Could it be seen to be 'wobbling' randomly by as much as an inch at arms length to due atmospheric conditions?
I just wonder if this is what I saw once a few years back.
gopher65
4 / 5 (1) May 05, 2009
It is very, very bright, and it zips across the sky crazy fast. It's awesome to see:).
deatopmg
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2009
UFO's are reported to change direction suddenly so there should not be any confusion.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.