ATV-4 ‘Einstein’ Leaves the ISS

ESA’s cargo ship ATV-4 or “Einstein” launched on 5 June from Kourou Japan and has been at the station since it delivered seven tons of cargo on 15 June. It ended its mission and left the ISS on 28 October but not before  it was loaded with trash and liquid waste products from the ISS.  As you can see in the video the separation was very smooth.

Einstein will slowly spiral down until it ends its mission on 02 November (Saturday). The cargo ship will be positioned so cameras on the ISS can record the fiery end of Einstein over the South Pacific as it interfaces with the atmosphere at 1200 UTC.

In the meantime, mindful of Einstein being the size of a double decker bus, I thought it might be visible on a good pass with binoculars. So I looked at predictions at Heavens Above and sure enough there was a pretty good one. Out I went and it was a very nice pass but didn’t see Einstein, tonight’s pass will be a good deal brighter so If skies are as good as they were last night I’ll be looking. Einstein is pretty small, but I am bound to try. I’ll set up a telescope stationary along the path and watch the field of view as the ISS goes by.

NOTE:  Comet ISON is now a binocular target !

I had beautiful skies this morning and spotted ISON even with the moon close by and just using a cheap pair of binoculars.  A check of the magnitude has it at 7.7 and will be improving quickly. Get outside before daylight and have a look if you can.  Look a little east of east of Mars and “lower” in the sky.  How much (and it’s not that far) depends on your viewing-aid with the cheaper binoculars Mars was on the edge of the field of view.

Here’s a video of the ATV 4 / ISS separation from NASA TV: