You can watch the International Space Station pass overhead from several thousand worldwide locations. It is the third brightest object in the sky and easy to spot if you know when to look up.
Visible to the naked eye, the International Space Station looks like a fast-moving plane only much higher and travelling thousands of miles an hour faster. So if you thought you saw Superman, chances are you didn’t and it was the International Space Station.
Why is it up there?
The space station is Earth’s only microgravity laboratory. This football field-sized platform hosts a plethora of science and technology experiments that are continuously being conducted by crew members or are automated. Research aboard the orbiting laboratory aims to benefit life back on Earth, as well as for future space exploration. The space station serves as a testbed for technologies and allows study the impacts of long-term spaceflight to humans, supporting NASA’s mission to push human presence father into space. Learn more about the research happening on the space station, and opportunities to conduct science there.
How often can you expect to see it?
The space station is visible because it reflects the light of the Sun – the same reason we can see the Moon. However, unlike the Moon, the space station isn’t bright enough to see during the day. It can only be seen when it is dawn or dusk at your location. As such, it can range from one sighting opportunity a month to several a week, since it has to be both dark where you are, and the space station has to happen to be going overhead.
How fast is it travelling?
The ISS circles the Earth every 90 minutes. It travels at about 17,500 miles (28,000 km) per hour, which gives the crew 16 sunrises and sunsets every day. In the more than 15 years that people have been living onboard, the Station has circumnavigated the Earth tens of thousands of times. You can see more facts about the ISS on the Space Station: Facts and Figures webpage.
Heads Up Alerts
You can receive email or text alerts when the space station is flying over a location near you by signing up here. This service will only notify you of “good” sighting opportunities – that is, sightings that are high enough in the sky (40 degrees or more) and last long enough to give you the best view of the orbiting laboratory.
All information contained in this article is written and owned by © NASA or its contributors and taken directly from their website Spot The Station | NASA. It is re-blogged here for information and educational purposes.
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