Observing
the International Space Station ISS

Compute the speed of the ISS

Compute the speed of the ISS

ISS on 2009, Mar 20 at 19:57 CET, 51.62° N, 7.97° E, mag -2.3

exposure time 15 s, ASA 200

horizontal angle of the photo: 51.4°, angle of ISS: 14.8°

ISS moving from West (right) to East (left), approaching Pollux (Gemini).

Sky Chart: StarryNight

ISS height on 2009, Mar 20 (Heavens Above): h = 354 km

Elevation above local horizon (from StarryNight sky chart): begin a1 =57.9, end a2 = 64.6°

The velocity of the ISS may be computed:

distance: s1 = h / sin a1 = 354 km / sin 57.9° = 417.9 km

distance: s2 = h / sin a2 = 354 km / sin 64.6° = 391.6 km

a = 14.8°

during exposition: s = sqrt(s1

velocity of ISS: v = s / t = 107.5 km / 15 s = 7.2 km/s

instead of v = sqrt(GM/r) = sqrt[6.674·10

ISS on 2009, Mar 21 at 20:24 CET, 51.62° N, 7.97° E, mag -2.3

exposure time 15 s, ASA 200

horizontal angle of the photo: 51.4°, angle of ISS: 17.0°

ISS moving from West (right) to East (left), passing the zenith.

s = h tan a = 354 km tan 17.0° = 108 km

v = s/t = 108 km / 15 s = 7.2 km/s