Nov. 2 Marks 12 Years Of Continuous Human Habitation Onboard The International Space Station

November 2, 2012

NASA’s new Spot the Station service sends you an email or text message a few hours before the space station passes over your house.


Did you know you can see the International Space Station from your house? As the third brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon, the space station is easy to see if you know where and when to look for it.

On the 12th anniversary of crews continuously living and working aboard the International Space Station, NASA announced Friday a new service to help people see the orbiting laboratory when it passes overhead. “Spot the Station” will send an email or text message to those who sign up for the service a few hours before they will be able to see the space station.

“It’s really remarkable to see the space station fly overhead and to realize humans built an orbital complex that can be spotted from Earth by almost anyone looking up at just the right moment,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations. “We’re accomplishing science on the space station that is helping to improve life on Earth and paving the way for future exploration of deep space.”

When the space station is visible — typically at dawn and dusk — it is the brightest object in the night sky, other than the moon. On a clear night, the station is visible as a fast moving point of light, similar in size and brightness to the planet Venus. “Spot the Station” users will have the options to receive alerts about morning, evening or both types of sightings.

The International Space Station’s trajectory passes over more than 90 percent of Earth’s population. The service is designed to only notify users of passes that are high enough in the sky to be easily visible over trees, buildings and other objects on the horizon. NASA’s Johnson Space Center calculates the sighting information several times a week for more than 4,600 locations worldwide, all of which are available on “Spot the Station.”

NASA’s Spot the Station service sends you an email or text message a few hours before the space station passes over your house. The space station looks like a fast-moving plane in the sky, though one with people living and working aboard it more than 200 miles above the ground. It is best viewed on clear nights. For more information on the International Space Station and its mission, visit the space station mission pages.

Spot the Station is available worldwide to anyone with an email account or SMS-enabled phone. Several times a week, Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, determines sighting opportunities for 4,600 locations worldwide. If your specific city or town isn’t listed, pick one that is fairly close to you. The space station is visible for a long distance around each of the listed locations.

This service will only notify you of “good” sighting opportunities – that is, sightings that are high enough in the sky (40 degrees or more) and last long enough to give you the best view of the orbiting laboratory. This will be anywhere from once or twice a week to once or twice a month, depending on the space station’s orbit. Don’t worry if there are big gaps in between sightings! A complete list of all possible space station sightings is available from Johnson Space Center.

You can sign up here to receive listing for your area.

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2 Responses to Nov. 2 Marks 12 Years Of Continuous Human Habitation Onboard The International Space Station

  1. Seaumas2
    November 15, 2012 at 2:04 am

    One must not forget the physical dangers and stresses placed upon the human system as a result of the absence of vital gravity; This absence robs the body of bone integrity, orientation, proper digestive processes, muscle mass and tone and other necessities. This sacrifice denotes the true heroic nature of an ISS astronaut.
    To these brave scientists I say “Thank you.”

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