It is a proud moment for all of mankind. Now, you can view the giant leap by taking a few small steps to a place with low light pollution and cloudless skies, and then simply looking up. The International Space Station and the shuttle Endeavour will be visible in the night sky or very early morning, most prominently from the Southern Hemisphere. (Read more about the launch here.)
What to see: The spectacle
The International Space Station (ISS) will be visible as usual, but this time it will be paired up with a parallel dot of light, slightly dimmer, which is the space shuttle Endeavour. After docking, which will happen on early Wednesday morning, 6:15 AM EST, the two will be indistinguishable to the naked eye. Best viewed on a time lapse photo, the ISS + shuttle will carve a nice continuous white contour across the film, moving far faster than any other object in the sky. A mere 10-15 minutes of exposure should reveal this.
The shuttle is expected to remain docked till the 29th of May. It will un-dock after that and descend. Thus, during 29th, 30th and 31st you can again expect to see two lines distinct from one another, initially parallel, but gradually breaking away. The shuttle will curve more and more as it dips towards the Earth.
So where should you look so that you can see this spectacle?
If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you will be disappointed, as the ISS will be visible only in the Southern Hemisphere. But don’t be too disappointed, as it will become slowly visible in the North as the mission continues. The spectacle is expected to last from the 18th to the 29th of May, ending in a gala show on the 30th and 31st. Northern parts of US and Canada will be have to wait to about 25th May onwards in order to get a glimpse of the spectacular display.
Where to look
This website (by NASA) is quite good and is true to a few minutes. Enter your position and it will tell you exactly where to look. Owing to the fast movement of the satellites, constant tracking is needed. I found an excellent website tracking the ISS in real time here. It gives you the current position and the expected trajectory of the ISS.
This mission has been a great success so far for NASA. This is the last flight of Endeavour, after whose retirement, NASA plans to focus more on deep space exploration.
Here’s wishing you happy ISS watching.