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ISS Flies Over North America, How To Spot The ISS From Where You Are

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This is an image of the International Space Station as it flew over the Gulf of Guinea last April. It captured the terminator, or the line that separates night and day, from 259 miles above.  ( NASA )

Some were given the chance to spot the International Space Station in the night sky this past weekend as it flew over North America. How can one get the chance to spot it, the next time that it passes over the United States?

ISS Flyover

This past weekend, the ISS was visible in many locations across North America as the space station passed overhead. From Florida to Maine, the night sky was clear enough to have a great view of the third brightest object in the sky.

As the ISS is constantly moving, it may be a while before the next opportunity to view it in the night sky, but NASA has made it easy for anyone who wants to have the chance next time.

Spot The Station

With NASA’s Spot The Station, anyone from several thousand worldwide locations can sign up and be notified if the ISS will make an appearance in their area. With it, a person who has signed up will be notified by NASA if the space station will be visible in the area.

That said, it is important to note that the ISS passes all around the Earth, so it may pass a location at a time of the day when viewing is not optimal. As such, NASA will only be notifying those in locations wherein it will actually be visible, which means that even if the ISS will be passing the area, if it is at a time when it will not be visible, NASA will not send out a notification.

ISS Sightings

Just like the moon, the ISS is visible because it reflects the light of the sun. However, it is much smaller so it cannot be seen during the day, and will only be visible when it happens to be passing overhead during dusk or dawn. This means that sightings can go from once a month to several a week depending on the conditions.

No equipment is needed to spot the ISS, as it can be easily seen by the naked eye. It looks simply like a very bright star or an airplane without flashing lights and does not change its direction. Furthermore, it travels much faster than an airplane at 17,500 miles (28,000 km) per hour, while airplanes merely fly at 600 miles (965 km) per hour.

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