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Turn your eyes to the skies: Two celestial events happening Thursday night

It's time to space out Thursday with International Space Station and lunar eclipse viewing opportunities!

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Heads up!  We have a great excuse to space out tonight and tomorrow evening.

First up, the lunar eclipse. If you want to stay up extra late Thursday or get up super early Friday, you'll be able to check out the nearly full lunar eclipse after 2:00 am, peaking at 4:00 am, and ending by around 6:00 am.  

It's the longest lunar eclipse in hundreds of years. 

Second, the International Space Station (ISS) will be crossing our western sky around 7:25 pm. The ISS appears like a bright star (not blinking) moving across the sky for three minutes.

You'll have an even better chance of checking out the ISS Friday evening. Just look to the southwest around 6:38 pm, as the ISS will move to the east-northeast with a duration of five minutes.

What are the astronauts on the ISS up to right now? According to the latest update from NASA, the U.S. Cygnus space freighter is set to depart from the International Space Station Saturday morning. The release of the ship can be viewed on NASA TV starting at 10:45 a.m.

As Cygnus re-enters the atmosphere, it will deploy three capsules to collect and transmit thermal data for the Kentucky Re-entry Probe Experiment, developed by the University of Kentucky. NASA said the data could help "validate thermal protection systems in space and heat shield materials on Earth."

So, how's the weather going to impact viewing?  Simply bundle up. Our sky will be clear both nights, but it will be cold. Lows will be in the 20s Thursday night for the lunar eclipse.  

If you want to look up future ISS viewing opportunities, you can find the times and dates here.

Contact meteorologist Ben Pine atbpine@whas11.com. Follow him onTwitter (@WHAS11Ben) andFacebook.

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