NASA’s New Tool Helps Spot ISS From Earth

First Posted: Nov 09, 2016 03:01 AM EST

Speeding around the Earth multiple times a day is the International Space Station. It is the space lab that has an average altitude of 248 miles above our planet and can be seen from the ground as the third brightest object in the sky.

To help budding sky watchers locate the station, NASA launched a new interactive map called Spot the Station. It allows users to enter their location and find the best places to view the station within a 50-mile radius as it passes over them.

Officials from NASA said in an official statement that "The International Space Station's trajectory passes over more than 90 percent of Earth's population. The service notifies users of passes that are high enough in the sky to be easily visible over trees, buildings and other objects on the horizon." They also said that the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, calculates the sighting information several times a week for over 6,700 locations around the globe.

NASA, however, did not stop with the interactive Spot the Station map -- as noted by, the agency also has an embeddable Spot the Station widget that allows its users to find out when the station will pass overhead their location. Spot the Station allows users to sign up to receive updates via e-mail or text message when the station will be visible in their selected areas.

The launch of Spot the Station falls on the 16th anniversary of the ISS of humans living and working aboard the station. Meanwhile, for those anticipating a glimpse of the station, NASA officials stated that the ISS, a lab the size of a U.S. football field, will likely appear as a streak in the sky, speeding at 18,000 mph. For best viewing purposes, it is most visible in the sky at dawn and at dusk.

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