The International Space Station (ISS) is a space laboratory where astronauts stay for a period of time and do experiments. It moves around the Earth at around 300 miles up and at 17,000 mph. It has several parts like the solar array wings working as power stations, rooms and laboratories for the astronauts, and all other necessary things inside. However, as it stays at a higher position, sunlight also falls on it and we can see it from the earth like other night sky objects. In recent years, it has grown larger and brighter than you can see with bare eyes.
Quick Guide to Observe the ISS
The location and the ideal time to view the ISS is provided on the NASA Spot The Station website. Look through the websites to get the exact moment the ISS will appear above your local horizon. To give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness, arrive at the place at least 5 to 10 minutes before the scheduled time. Wait while facing and glancing to the west. You will soon notice the ISS as a star emerging from the western horizon. Observe it with your telescope pointed at it. The ISS can be seen brighter than with the naked eye with a 4-6 inch telescope.
How to see the ISS?
- Go through ‘NASA’s Spot The Station website’
The ‘NASA’s Spot The Station website’ which provides the location and best time to observe ISS. Every time the ISS passes overhead looks different. Sometimes it is dim and not visible for a long time while on some passes, it is amazingly bright and is viewable for a long time. You also can check the ‘AccuWeather Astronomy weather forecast’ to make sure your location has clear skies without the interference of clouds or light pollution.
- Detect the best time to observe the ISS
The ISS sometimes looks different. During a high pass, it appears incredibly bright whereas in a low pass it is fainter than the stars. So you have to know the best pass that is worth observing. When the ISS is high above the horizon, it is fully illuminated by the sun and visible for several minutes. This is the best time to observe it.
How to find the ISS?
- Go through the websites and find out the rise time of the ISS above your local horizon.
- Be there in the location at least 5-10 minutes before that time so that your eyes get used to the darkness.
- Face and look at the West and wait.
- Soon you will see a star rising up from the western horizon. That is the ISS.
- Point your telescope to it and observe.
2 Tips to observe the ISS in the best way.
- Though you can see it easily from anywhere, try to find a location where the sky is clear and dark. Using a telescope, you will find it even brighter.
- You can use “Space station”, ‘’ISS tracker’’ or ‘Satellite tracker’ in app stores or play stores to find the location of the ISS.
What can you see on the ISS with a telescope?
- The Space station and its color.
- Using a telescope with more than a 10-inch aperture, you may be able to see human-like appearance near space stations that are none but the astronauts.
What telescope to see the ISS?
ISS is visible with unaided eyes. However, a telescope increases the brightness and contrast of the view. Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector, and Celestron – NexStar 8SE Telescope – Computerized Telescope are great telescopes to see the ISS. A list of telescopes to see the ISS has more telescope options that can see the ISS very clearly.
What size telescope to see the ISS?
A 4-6 inch telescope is enough to see the ISS brighter than the view by the naked eye. But a telescope with more than 10 inches can show you the color of the solar panel, its shape, and even the movement of the astronauts.
Enjoying the ISS? Here are other things to see with your telescope.
A telescope reveals the wonders of the deep night sky. The ISS is a great target for amateurs. However, the sky is full of night sky gems. You can see the planets of solar systems with their moons using even a small telescope. Viewing Jupiter Through A Telescope can show you the ways you need to follow to observe Jupiter. Similarly, you can go through ‘’Viewing Nebulae Through A Telescope’’ to get guidance on observing various nebulae. There are other objects like meteor showers, comets, and asteroids that appear in a telescope with great views. ‘List of things to see with a telescope’ can suggest to you some objects to observe with your telescope.