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NASA will now alert you when the ISS is about to pass over

Data about where the International Space Station is at any given point is not a secret, but now NASA has a new, easy way to let you know when you can catch a glimpse of the space station just as it’s about to pass over your location.

NASA’s Spot the Station service sends you an email or text message a few hours before the space station passes over your house. The space station looks like a fast-moving plane in the sky, though one with people living and working aboard it more than 200 miles above the ground. It is best viewed on clear nights. For more information on the International Space Station and its mission, visit the space station mission pages.

Spot the Station is available worldwide to anyone with an email account or SMS-enabled phone. Several times a week, Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, determines sighting opportunities for 4,600 locations worldwide. If your specific city or town isn’t listed, pick one that is fairly close to you. The space station is visible for a long distance around each of the listed locations.

This service will only notify you of “good” sighting opportunities - that is, sightings that are high enough in the sky (40 degrees or more) and last long enough to give you the best view of the orbiting laboratory. This will be anywhere from once or twice a week to once or twice a month, depending on the space station’s orbit. Don’t worry if there are big gaps in between sightings! A complete list of all possible space station sightings is available from Johnson Space Center.

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