With the International Space Station (ISS) completing its daily orbits around the Earth, you can track the space lab as it passes by your area.
Orbiting at an average altitude of 248 miles or 400 kilometers above the Earth, the ISS is considered as the third brightest object in the sky. While the space station can be spotted from the ground, it zooms off quickly. Because of this, it would really help to know where to look in the sky.
International Space Station Location Tracker: How to Spot the ISS
To assist avid space station watchers in this skygazing push, NASA has launched a new interactive map at the Spot the Station site. This tool lets users input their location and discover the best locations within a 50-mile radius to see the station as it streaks over them.
In a statement, NASA said the International Space Sation's trajectory would pass over "more than 90 percent of Earth's population" and as such, the new service alerts users of pass-bys that are visible to the human eye. "NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston calculate the sighting information several times a week for more than 6,700 locations worldwide," NASA further said in the statement.
NASA also offers an embeddable Spot the Station widget, which was released earlier this year. It lets you display ISS sighting information on your website, wherein it notifies your site visitors when the ISS will pass over their location.
Initial components of the space station were launched into space in 1998. Subsequently, the space lab has been constructed to produce the complex structure that has the size of an American football field.
Users can also sign up for e-mail or SMS alerts on when the ISS would be visible in their areas.
NASA officials said the ISS is best viewed in the sky at dawn and dusk. The orbiting space lab will most likely appear as a bright light moving across the sky, as the structure flies at approximately 18,000 miles per hour or 28,968 kilometers per hour.
Stunning Photo of the ISS Traversing the Sun
One of the rarest magical moments of the ISS captured on camera was the breathtaking image of the space lab with the Sun as its orange backdrop, Cnet reported. NASA photographer Joel Kowsky snapped photos of the ISS as it looked small yet identifiable with its solar arrays visible on each side.
The International Space Station is seen in silhouette as it transits the Sun at roughly five miles per second while @NASA astronaut @Astro_Kimbrough and @esa astronaut @Thom_Astro performed a spacewalk to upgrade @Space_Station's power supply. See More 📷 https://t.co/2cfJ3BbeHl pic.twitter.com/o4zq9orTyE— NASA HQ PHOTO (@nasahqphoto) June 25, 2021
It was actually a composite image that was made from seven frames and presents the ISS in silhouette traversing the Sun at around five miles per second, NASA said in a statement. Kowsky tweeted it was a "fun one to chase down today."
NASA also tweeted a GIF version of the composite to show a moving view of how the ISS travles over the Sun. These shots were taken as NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet were on a spacewalk installing new solar panels.