Tracking the ISS (International Space Station) from Your Computer and in the Night Sky

iss trackingTracking the ISS (International Space Station) is a fun activity that many backyard sky gazers will enjoy when the night sky is clear of clouds and the trajectory of the space station in your part of the world is just right.

The ISS, which is a multi-national, modular space station that was planned and built over the course of several years during the 1990s and 2000s, orbits around Earth about 15 times per day.

The orbiting ISS can be easily seen from ground as a bright, white dot slowly but steadily moving across the sky.  In fact, the ISS is the biggest and brightest man-made object we can see in the night sky.

Tracking the ISS on the internet can help you to determine when is the best time to go outside, look up, and try to spot the space station as it passes around 225 miles above our heads.

 

How To Track The ISS

There are several websites you can check out to get the precise current location of the ISS as well as its future path:

•    NASA’s ISS tracking page has automatically refreshing data on the space station’s current location.
•    ISS Tracker targets the real-time location, velocity, and altitude of the space station.
•    Satellite Fly-Bys by Space Weather tracks not just the ISS but also the Hubble Telescope and other orbiting bodies.
•    Astro Viewer utilizes Google Earth View to show you what the astronauts would see if looking straight down from the ISS.

 

All of these sites will give you different perspectives on the International Space Station as well as provide data in different ways, so each is worth pursuing to help you gain a better insight on where the ISS is currently located and to understand more about crew on board.

In addition to the many websites that are available for you to check out, don’t forget to watch your local weather reports, since many TV weather forecasters will announce the time frame(s) during which you can see the ISS fly by in your neck of the woods.

Plus, your local newspaper can still be a great resource for checking out the latest on projected ISS fly-bys as well as news about the crew who will be flying over your head.

There are even apps you can buy for your cell phone that will help you to track the ISS as it cruises overhead, and will even tell you when and where a sighting of the ISS near you will be possible.

Whether you choose to look-up the current or future location of the International Space Station on the internet, learn more about the ISS fly-bys in the newspaper or on TV, or you simply step outside one night and decide to spend the evening looking up hoping you will get lucky with a sighting, watching for and tracking the ISS is just one of the many ways to enjoy your downtime.

Just don’t forget to wave as the ISS tracks overhead – those astronauts may just be looking down upon you as they glide overhead in outer space.

 

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, and living green with others.

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