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NASA’s New Station-Spotting Service

If you have ever thought it would be cool to watch the International Space Station (ISS) in the sky, NASA is making it a lot easier for you to do just that. Coinciding with the 12th anniversary this week of continuous occupation of the orbiting laboratory, the space agency has launched a new website tailored specifically for skywatchers wanting to catch it flying over their backyard.

NASA has done a fine job putting together an easy-to-use online service called Spot the Station. Users in or near 4,600 cities worldwide can receive email, text or voice messages on their computers, tablets and phones alerting them to an upcoming ISS viewing opportunity.

Orbiting about 280 miles above and traveling 17,000 miles per hour, the manned satellite looks like a brilliant star gliding swiftly across the backdrop of fixed stars.  It’s also easily discernible from a passing plane because the space outpost will shine with a white, unblinking light.

The ISS is about the size of a football field and covered with shiny metal surface and lots of highly reflective solar panels, making it easily visible with the naked eye, even from city centers. If sunlight hits it at just the right angle, the orbiting structure can at times be the second brightest object in the night sky, after the Moon.  But since it only takes 2 to 4 minutes to glide across the sky, the trick is knowing when and where to head outside and look up.

That’s where Spot the Station comes in.  Just enter your country and city name, and it automatically generates a viewing timetable sent to any of your digital devices a few hours before the scheduled flyby. It’s that simple. You never have to worry about looking up any information because it’s sent directly to you

Avid skywatchers who may be more off the beaten track and not in NASA’s database—or who would like to try hunting down dozens of fainter metal space birds like the Hubble Space Telescope or maybe even space junk, like old Russian rocket boosters—should visit heavens-above.com.

While Spot the Station is definitely not the first such service to exist on the Net,  it’s nice to see NASA putting out such a handy satellite-tracking application.

So if you want to make an impression with your family and friends, check out their reaction when you can point to the night sky at exactly the right moment the International Space Station, with its astronaut crew, becomes visible over your heads.  Believe me, it never fails to impress.

Comments

  1. Felipe Baugham
    June 4, 11:25 am

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  2. Anny Kusuma
    Bkk
    November 3, 2013, 1:37 am

    So much enjoy with a technology thank a lot NA SA

  3. Anny Kusuma
    Bkk
    November 3, 2013, 1:33 am

    Yes I really would like to know more detail.

  4. Some random guy
    tomah
    May 20, 2013, 12:51 pm

    Can you send me the link to where i can help spot stars or other planets like earth

  5. Ahmad omar
    alberta
    January 5, 2013, 8:44 pm

    I would really like to see that.

  6. Mfahim
    Kabul
    January 1, 2013, 2:44 am

    i like to know abut the sky star ?

  7. Orion
    South Africa
    December 20, 2012, 4:53 pm

    most people are commenting that they would like to know, people where are your eyes, are you reading with your eyes closed?
    if you open them you will see that you have to register on the nasa site, the article clearly gives you the link. after you register, you will then receive email alerts..

  8. PIE
    PIE
    December 6, 2012, 7:09 pm

    PIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

  9. joe cruz
    Tucson, AZ 85706
    November 22, 2012, 11:06 pm

    Please e-mail when the space station passes thru my are.
    THX, Joe Cruz

  10. Wendy
    Highland, Il
    November 7, 2012, 1:24 pm

    Please inform position of spaceship.
    excited

  11. Sijlain Pasha
    chintamani,india
    November 7, 2012, 12:41 pm

    i am so much intreasted to know more about it

  12. reynante sayaman
    anabu 2B,imus,cavite philippines
    November 7, 2012, 7:58 am

    please let me know more about the iss,when it’s going to pass above my small miserableold house, iv’e always been fascinated by this manmade structure on space,please inform me..thank you very much NASA.

  13. Anny kusuma
    Thailand
    November 7, 2012, 6:23 am

    Yes i would like to know more details and thank so much if can tell us more about this.

  14. Shamsul Ali Sircar
    Dhaka, Bangladesh
    November 7, 2012, 3:00 am

    Shamsul Ali Sircar
    Dhaka. Bangladesh

    November 07, 2012 1:49 pm thanks to NASA’s New Station-Spotting Service. Please inform me when and what time and date, I can see the space station on my open eye without Telescope from the roof of my house? please also gave more information about when it shine much more

  15. YUVAN
    india
    November 7, 2012, 2:30 am

    Thanks to NASA’s New Station-Spotting Service.
    I AM CONGRATULATING OUR SPACE SCIENTISTS FOR ISS

  16. Tamati Tuhiwai
    Sydney,Australia
    November 7, 2012, 1:14 am

    Yes please,I would like to know.

  17. Lyudmila
    Russia, Nevinnomyssk, Stavropol region
    November 7, 2012, 12:44 am

    Thanks! It is very interesting!

  18. Bartley Benson
    42355 Maceo, Kentucky.
    November 7, 2012, 12:44 am

    Thanks, I enjoy the night sky.

  19. Nishanth
    india
    November 7, 2012, 12:33 am

    please inform us when it happen’s.I really want’s to see this.How it’l look everything……..

  20. Nishanth
    india
    November 7, 2012, 12:32 am

    supb……..technology is very much improved it’s awesome……..

  21. Gunnar s G UDMUNDSSON
    ICLAND
    November 7, 2012, 12:26 am

    GOOD

  22. Balbir chandel
    Dehradun,India
    November 6, 2012, 1:33 pm

    thanks to NASA’s New Station-Spotting Service.kindly gave more information about when it shine much more .

  23. meenu
    Dehradun,india
    November 6, 2012, 1:19 pm

    Please,gave me chance to know more about . thanks NASA.

  24. balbir chandel
    India
    November 6, 2012, 1:16 pm

    I also want to see ,kindly inform me.Thanks

  25. Venkita Moorthy K
    Pathanapuram India
    November 6, 2012, 10:15 am

    I would like to know more details