Spot the International Space Station with new NASA service

3 Nov 2012

The International Space Station. Image via Wikimedia Commons

US space agency NASA has announced a new service to help earthlings spot the International Space Station when it is 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 orbiting laboratory.

“It’s really remarkable to see the space station fly overhead and to realise 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.”

Yesterday marked the 12th anniversary of crews continuously living and working aboard the International Space Station, whose trajectory passes over more than 90pc of Earth’s population, NASA said.

When the space station is visible, typically at dawn and dusk, it is the brightest object in the night sky, other than the moon, NASA said.

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 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’.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic