The International Space Station is easy to see but you need to know when and where to look. The reason for this is because the ISS is constantly moving around the earth. It travels from close to the North Pole to close to the South Pole. Because the Earth is spinning, the ISS’ orbit covers the Earth’s surface from top to bottom as well as sideways.
The ISS is the easiest satellite to see because it is the biggest and it reflects the most sunlight. The best times to see the ISS are around sunrise and sunset. How do yo find the best times to spot the ISS from your own backyard? Fortunately, there are websites that can help you. You can try one on your own. There are also apps that can be loaded on a smartphone. If you do not have a smartphone, ask your parents if they can help you use one.
If you want to see where to look for the International Space Station using your computer, try the SpotTheStation website provided by NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. To predict when you can view the ISS, follow these steps:
Click on the search button (highlighted in red) near the upper left corner of the map.
Click inside the “Select Country” to see a list of countries.
Click on the name of your country. In the same way, select your state or region and the name of the nearest town.
After you have selected your country, state and city, click on the “Go” button to see the results.
The map now shows a blue pin in the center of your city. It also shows a list of days, times and where in the sky to look for the ISS!
Each row in the chart gives you the following information:
- The day and time when the ISS will first be visible.
- How long you will be able to see the ISS.
- How high the ISS will climb into the sky. (The horizon is 0 degrees and the point directly above you is 90 degrees.)
- The direction you should look when the ISS first appears.
- The direction where you will lose sight of the ISS.
If you click on the blue pin in the map, you will see a blue circle that shows the area from which you can view the ISS.
Did you see the ISS?