Monday, October 28, 2013

Viewer's Guide to the ISS

Did you know the International Space Station is easily visible to the naked eye? In fact, at it's brightest, it can outshine Venus! The problem is that it moves very fast (17,130 mph) so you need to know when to look, or you'll miss it.

So, how do you know when the ISS will be overhead? One great resource is Heavens-Above. It will tell you exactly when the ISS will be visible, how long it will be visible for, and where in the sky it will be. It also has information on lots of other satellites and other things of astronomical interest.

But sometimes it will be months before the ISS passes over your location at night. You'll need some kind of reminder after that long. That's the purpose of Spot The Station. Sign up for it, and it will send you an email 12 hours before the next sighting.

There are also apps for mobile devices that are very useful. A good one I just got is ISS Detector.

Also worth mentioning is Wolfram|Alpha. It's less practical for finding good viewings, but it has lots of interesting information. Not just about the ISS, not just about satellites, not just about astronomy, it knows about pretty much everything.

So, go out and look at the sky. It's an awesome place.

1 comment: