ISS naked eye observation

The International Space Station is on low earth orbit (350 Km) since 1998 leveraging advanced research conditions which would otherwise be impossible within the full Earth's gravitational field. There's a wide range of interesting topics about the ISS suitable for the ultimate all round geek, however during this article I'll be showing you how to watch the ISS in the night sky with the naked eye. That's right, it is possible to track the largest object orbiting our planet with no instruments at all, a simple and educational hobby which you can practice for free. Having said that, it obviously gets much more fun when you point a telescope to the station since details such as the solar panels can be easily depicted rather than a simple white spot.

The first place you should visit is the tracking section of the Nasa's space flight site which is linked at the bottom of this article. Once there you'll be able to see a map tracking the ISS current position, the area inside the red circle around it corresponds to the places on Earth from which it is currently visible. Now follow the "Sighting Opportunities" link, choose your country in the dropdown box and pickup the nearest city. This will produce a listing with all the possible sightings of the ISS for the next days, including the local time, duration, maximum elevation and direction from wich the ISS will approach and departure. The direction is a simple compass bearing whereas the elevation is the angle with respect to the horizontal plane.


NASA tracking