How to Spot the International Space Station

It’s not hard to do, and the views can range from ‘cool’ to “WOW’ (the latter with a telescope).


Catching the International Space Station flying overhead is actually a fairly easy thing to do.

It’s the third brightest object found regularly in the sky, after the Sun and the Moon. (It should be noted, with only the naked eye it doesn’t look like much more than a dot—but it’s still the ISS, nonetheless.)

For starters, consider enlisting NASA’s help. Head to Spot The Station, and sign up for email or text notices—the space agency will then buzz you when the ISS is over your particular location. The service stays active for 12 months from the registration date (and NASA will not pay any fees incurred by accounts that register for this service; that’s part of the sign-up agreement). However, even if you don’t sign up, the Spot The Station site still gives you the ability to research exactly when the ISS will be passing overhead—as well as links to share such details via Facebook and Twitter.

Then again, iPhone owners can download apps like ISS Spotter, GoSatWatch, and Sputnik! to track the Space Station—while Android users can find ISS Detector Pro, Where is ISS, and SatSky (among other apps) in the Google Play store to do the same.

Again—on even the clearest of nights—without some type of magnification, it’s basically just a bright dot—like a fast-moving plane, except its light doesn’t flash.

However, with a telescope the views can be pretty amazing.

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