Central Valley

Valley could see shuttle and space station tonight, Saturday

Forecasted clear skies this evening and Saturday evening could create a unique opportunity to spot the International Space Station and the space shuttle Atlantis.

They should be viewable to the naked eye for five minutes tonight beginning at 6:19 p.m. and appear as though one is chasing the other across the sky. The same thing should happen Saturday at 6:40 p.m. as long as skies stay clear, according to the NASA web site. Because the orbiting vehicles are moving so fast, telescopes aren't useful, NASA says, but advises people that binoculars can reveal some structural detail of the shape of the spacecraft.

NASA gives viewers tips on where to find the spacecraft: The international space station should approach at 10 degrees above north-northwest and reach a maximum elevation of 35 degrees before departing at 13 degrees above east. The shuttle should appear at the same place and reach the same elevation but depart slightly lower, at 11 degrees above east-southeast.

Saturday, the shuttle and space station both appear at 10 degrees above west-northwest and reach a maximum elevation of 61 degrees before departing at 11 degrees above southeast.