How to Follow the International Space Station: Just Look Up

Have you ever noticed a brilliant spot moving quickly across the sky as you gazed upward at dawn or dusk? No new star is slipping out of place. Most likely, you recently witnessed the International Space Station (ISS).

The International Space Station (ISS) is a football field-sized orbital microgravity research laboratory, training facility, and observatory that is powered entirely by solar energy. It orbits the Earth every 90 minutes while traveling at 17,500 mph and 250 miles above our heads. The top speed of an airplane is 575mph, in case it’s difficult to comprehend how quick that is.

Contrary to common opinion, NASA’s Skylab (Opens in a new window) , which orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, was the first place humans had resided outside of the planet Earth. Nevertheless, the ISS is an important step toward human space exploration and our species’ future habitation on other planets.

We can tell you how to track the ISS, so don’t worry. The optimal moment to glance up can be determined by checking out NASA’s interactive map and subscribing to email or text alerts.

HOW TO FIND THE ISS ON THE INTERNET: SPOT THE STATION Go to Spot The Station (Opens in a new window) and utilize the interactive map to identify sighting opportunities in your area if you wish to track the ISS from home. Additionally, the Live Space Station Tracking Map (Opens in a new window) displays the precise location of the satellite over the planet.

Blue pins are placed on the map to indicate potential sightings. The closest blue point on the map is Mount Baldy, which is located high in the San Gabriel Mountains to the northeast of Los Angeles, where I currently reside.

If you want to know when the ISS might be visible from a certain location, select a blue pin and click the link labeled “View sighting opportunities.” The information is accurate and displays the correct day, time, elevation, and length of the ISS observation in minutes. Additionally, NASA gives Facebook and Twitter links for each prospective sighting event.

Every sighting will take place within a few hours of sunrise or sunset. The sun’s reflection off the space station and contrast with the gloomier sky make this the best viewing time. It should be remembered that the ISS must be elevated above 40 degrees from the horizon in the nighttime sky in order to be visible before setting out to any specific location.

SUBSCRIBE TO ALERTS Additionally, you sign up for alerts (Opens in a new window) . By choosing a blue pin on the map and clicking Sign up for this place, you can enter your general location by clicking the Sign Up button in the Heads Up Alerts section.

Enter your email address or mobile carrier and number after selecting whether you want to receive email or text notifications. Select the AM or PM alert timings that you like, check the boxes to indicate your agreement to the terms, and then click Submit. NASA’s notifications service requires a double opt-in. You will be given an 8-digit code once you have supplied the information above (so keep an eye out for it).

Return to the sign-up page after receiving your code, and then look to the right of the screen for the Enter your Code section. Add the code you were received together with your email address or phone number. To finish the registration procedure, click Process Code.

Your notifications will then be confirmed as active by the website. Verify that all the information is accurate, including your selected location (in my case, Mount Baldy, as it is the one nearest to Los Angeles). The sighting possibilities for the current month, in your local time zone, are also provided on this page.

When the ISS is nearby and in a good viewing location, NASA will then let you know.

Remember to add email protected to your contacts if you selected to receive emails so that the alerts don’t end up in your spam bin. For a full year, your alerts will continue to ding your phone or inbox. After that, you will have to re-register.

Now who is on the ISS? What’s it like to live on the ISS? During the press tour for NatGeo’s One Strange Rock (Opens in a new window) in 2018, Nicole Stott, an astronaut, was the subject of our interview. She spoke to us about her 27-year career at NASA, during which she spent 104 days in space, completed a six-hour and 39-minute spacewalk, and finally descended to Earth aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Who is now atop? There are seven astronauts onboard (Opens in a new window) at the time of writing, including Nicole A. Mann, the first native American woman to represent NASA in space.

The ISS is home to robots as well. The purpose of these Astrobee robots is to monitor radiation levels, help with two-way communications with mission control on Earth, and stay far away from astronauts doing experiments. Astrobee has “worked over 750 hours aboard the space station, accomplishing over 100 activities, from tech demos to assisting in experiments,” according to NASA says (Opens in a new window) as of April 2022.

SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY If you’re an optimist, the ISS is a pleasant example of how people can get along when they share interests, like, say, the future of life itself. The station has hosted more than 3,000 scientific projects from researchers in more than 100 nations, and the ISS National Laboratory (Opens in a new window) reports that 240 persons from 19 different countries have visited.

Not to give anything away, but in around 5 billion years, our Sun will die (Opens in a new window) , so by then our ancestors ought to be far gone. We need to figure out how to outfit people for (very) long distance travel and understand how to make them survive in (very) adverse situations if we want to explore the known cosmos. The technologies that will make this possible are tested on the ISS in a microgravity environment.


The NASA’s Skylab (Opens in a new window) 0, a 7.5-ton module holding the first precision particle physics detector in space, is one of those experiments. Dr. Samuel Ting, the scientist in charge of the AMS, was the subject of a recent interview in which he described how the instrument has been “sifting space,” simulating billions of cosmic rays, and searching for signs of dark matter in order to learn more about the universe’s beginnings.

Studies in biology and biotechnology, space science (such as the experimental chrondule creation, or “stardust”), and evidence-based human research, such as discovering genetic predispositions to physical changes in microgravity situations, are among the other NASA’s Skylab (Opens in a new window) 1 being carried out on the ISS.

Relationships abroad The ISS was built in situ, or above the atmosphere of the Earth. On November 20, 1998, the first module was launched, and on October 31, 2000, the first crew was deployed. 16 nations have participated since its beginning with the help of five space agencies: CSA (Canada), ESA (Europe), JAXA (Japan), Roscosmos (Russia), and NASA (United States).

It’s impressive that everyone engaged manages to keep above such struggle and get on with the job at hand, for the most part, in the face of increased conflict amongst important entities on Earth. However, Russia will eventually leave the ISS, and China is presently constructing its own space station.

LIFE AFTER ISS: SPACE TOURISM Sadder still, the ISS will be shut down in 2030, therefore it’s important to see it at least once while it’s still in the night sky.

Although a lengthy read, NASA’s Skylab (Opens in a new window) 2 describes how the station will be made ready for usage in the commercial sector, with “measures being taken to establish both the supply and demand side of the low-Earth orbit commercial economy, as well as the technical procedures and money required for transition.”

The transition report indicates that NASA has signed agreements with Blue Origin, Nanoracks LLC, and Northrop Grumman to create commercial destinations in space, which is good news for those of us who yearn to travel to space rather than just see space stations from the ground.

Look up till we can all travel to low Earth orbit and picture what life would be like there—where no human has gone before, bravely or otherwise.



Related Posts

recent posts
Subscribe to Updates
Get the latest creative news from FooBar about art, design and business.