The International Space Station (ISS) can be seen at certain times from Earth – and you can watch it fly in the night sky through this new NASA tool.
The U.S. space agency added a companion tool to its Spot the Station service, a new website widget where users can easily share information on when and where to see the orbital laboratory as it flies overhead.
“It is rewarding – and great fun – when someone first sees the station from the ground,” said ISS Program division director Sam Scimemi. “It is a wonderful connection for anyone with an interest in space research, or a curiosity about life off this planet.”
When visible, the ISS is the second brightest object in the beautiful night sky, next to the moon. However, one will not readily find it when starting up the sky, making the tool very handy for currently more than 350,000 night-watchers and gazers tracking different ISS sightings through Spot the Station alerts.
The station’s trajectory passes over about 90 percent of Earth’s population, with the Johnson Space Center situated in Houston calculating the sighting information a few times every week for more than 4,700 locations worldwide.
Website owners and administrators can copy the widget code into their source code to display the tool on their site, choosing between a set location or user-selected location.
The famed space station achieved its 100,000th orbit this week since the Nov. 20, 1998 launch of its Zarya cargo module. Moving at a fascinating 17,500 miles per hour, it takes about 90 minutes for the habitable satellite to complete its orbit around Earth at a 240-mile altitude.
At present, the ISS crew consists of Jeff Williams, Tim Kopra, British astronaut Tim Peake, and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka, Alexey Ovchinin, and Yuri Malenchenko. For Williams, the ISS’ recent significant milestone is an homage to the partnership among NASA, the European Space Agency, Russia, Canada, and Japan.
The ISS will remain flying in orbit until 2024, with plans to extend its service to 2028.
“Humans have been living on the space station continuously for 15 years now, conducting valuable research to improve life on Earth while supporting NASA’s journey to Mars,” said Scimemi.