When you know where to look and what to look for, you can easily see the spacecraft of Inspiration4 fly over Chicago at night. Despite the presence of bright city lights, the current streak of clear night skies and Dragon’s orbital path means you have a couple chances to spot the spacecraft each night.
Inspiration4’s civilian astronauts- Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski- launched into orbit on Wednesday night for a three day mission to space. Following orbital insertion, the spacecraft reached altitudes of up to 590 km above Earth and is now orbiting the planet about once every hour and a half.
SpaceX launched a Dragon tracker on their website, showing the distance from Earth and approximate location.
Dragon’s current orbital path includes two visible passes over the city of Chicago each night. You can see the spacecraft completely naked eye, without the aid of binoculars or a telescope, from the city and suburbs.
According to satellite tracker app Heavens Above, there are two visible passes by Inspiration4 over the city of Chicago tonight. If you are not located in Chicago, you can customize the tracker to your location to find out if and when the spacecraft passes over you.
According the Heavens Above, Inspiration4 will begin an overhead pass at 8:46pm CT and again at 10:28 pm CT tonight, Friday, September 17th. Look WSW at the start of the pass, the spacecraft will be overhead at 8:50 pm, heading NNW, and complete the first pass by 8:52 pm in the northeast corner of the sky- ultimately heading out over Lake Michigan.
Inspiration4 resembles a star in brightness, but differs in that it is moving at a steady pace across the night sky. Try to situate yourself away from as much light as possible, and avoid looking at sources of light (like your phone screen) before looking up.
This video was captured by us during the last night pass of Inspiration4 over Chicago.