Weatherz School: Spot the space station

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It’s not a bird… and it’s not a plane… It’s the International Space Station! The ISS is easy to spot if you know where and when to look up.

The space station circles the Earth every 90 minutes, which gives the crew 16 sunrises and sunsets every day.

The ISS is visible because it is reflecting light from the Sun. This is the same reason that the Moon appears to shine. But, the space station isn’t bright enough to see during the day. To spot the station, it must be overhead near dawn or dusk.

Since the orbit of the ISS takes it all around the globe, it can be passing over you at times when it will not be visible. That’s why sighting opportunities can range from one a month to several a week.

NASA can help you Spot the Station. If you sign up for email or text alerts, they will let you know when the space station will be visible for your area.

You don’t need a telescope. As one of the brightest objects in the sky, the ISS is visible to the naked eye. It looks like an airplane or a very bright star on the move.

You’ll know it’s the space station because it doesn’t have flashing lights or change direction. Also, it travels at about 17,500 miles per hour, so it moves way faster than an airplane!

Of course, the last thing to factor in is cloud cover, and that’s where we come in. The WDIO app tracks sky conditions by the hour.