Amateur Astronomers Make History by Flashing the ISS!

The ISS spots amateur astronomers!
This image shows only San Antonio and the dark territory north (top of image) of town. That "big honking bright blue light" at the top of the image is what the International Space Station saw from Texas! 
Photo: Astronaut Don Pettit, courtesy of Robert Reeves, SAAA

On March 4th, two NASA Night Sky Network Astronomy clubs, the San Antonio Astronomy Association and the Austin Astronomical Society beamed lights up at the International Space Station (ISS), and patiently waited to get a signal back from the ISS that the lights had been seen from the Station. The experiment worked, and the astronomy clubs made history! 

"If you were down on Earth, flashing a light at the astronauts on the ISS,would they see you? The answer is now definitively, yes. Flashing the space station with beams of light as it passes overhead had never been successfully done—until March 4, 2012. Astronomers with the San Antonio Astronomy Association (SAAA) and the Austin Astronomy Society combined forces to flash enough light at the ISS from a dark location, as to appear greater than 0 magnitude to astronaut Don Pettit, on board the station." - Nancy Atkinson via Universe Today

Photo: Robert Stepp, SAAA

Here's an excerpt of the email from astronaut Don Pettit to the astronomy clubs: 

The late night/early morning ISS flashing was a smashing success.  We could see your flashing with no trouble…Good job. This has to be a first and we have the pictures to prove it. 

"The ISS above the Earth"
Photo: Astronaut Don Pettit

Find out more at Don Pettit's blog, Letters to Earth. Listen to 365 Days of Astronomy Amateur Astronomers Flash the ISS! For a video and more details, read the Universe Today article


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