America’s obsession with space is sort of an enduring love affair. Beginning with the space race with the former Soviet Union, the idea of exploring the great unknown has captivated millions of people in the country. Even before the 20th century, ancient philosophers, scientists and mathematicians fell in love with what little they could observe of space.
While traveling to space is still a distant dream for most people, observing, researching and watching the intricacies of outer space is just as satisfying. One of these opportunities comes each time the International Space Station (ISS) flies over the Earth.
What Is the International Space Station?
The International Space Station is a space station that is currently orbiting about 250 miles above our planet. It is a home for astronauts who are currently in space and also serves as a laboratory.
Its first pieces were launched in 1998, the first crew arrived at the station on November 2, 2000, and it was officially completed in 2011. Scientific research and medical studies on the effects of space on the body are conducted at the station.
What Time of Day Can the ISS Be Observed?
Since the ISS reflects the sun’s light because of its light color and solar panels, it’s visible at dawn, dusk and night but not during the day in a bright sky. It can be seen on a clear night moving like an airplane but without the blinking and flashing lights. You can usually spot the station from anywhere under a minute to over 20 minutes, depending on the day.
Using NASA’s Online Tools and Apps
NASA has online tools, such as their Spot The Station page, that can help anybody in the United States find the next time the space station flies over their location. The NASA app also provides these statistics along with others, such as updates on missions and images from space.
On the Spot the Station page, you can enter your zip code and find a list of the times and dates when the ISS will pass your location in the next few weeks. You can also spot the station internationally by plugging in some international zip codes if you’re planning to travel and want to see the next pass.
What If I Missed My Chance to Spot the Station?
The International Space Station circles the Earth every hour and a half, or every ninety minutes. If you missed a sighting, there’s certain to be another within the next couple of weeks. Remember that some sightings are longer than others, so plan ahead and be sure to follow the weather forecast to ensure the sighting will be visible.
Humans are sure to explore space for eons to come. With plans to investigate other planets and even send civilians into space soon, the obsession with space is still going strong. If you want to share in the excitement, planning to watch the ISS fly overhead is a great way to observe the leaps and bounds in space exploration. (For more space info, please click here.)