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Where Is the International Space Station?

The satellite circles the Earth 16 times a day. Here's how to spot it.
Related: Space
Astronauts onboard the International Space Station are in constant communication with Earth - way beyond discussing mission specifics with Houston. They send back incredible photos via Twitter, host Google Hangouts and even perform live music from space. Thanks to social media, the ISS doesn't seem all that far away.

But, where exactly is the International Space Station?

International Space Station OrbitThe ISS is a habitable satellite that orbits Earth between 205 and 270 miles up. The space station circles the planet 16 times a day traveling at 17,500 mph. It moves in an elliptical orbit from east to west, always tilted 51.6 degrees relative to the equator.

While the ISS maintains a consistent path, the Earth rotates beneath it. This allows the space station, over time, to cover all the Earth's surface between 51.6 degrees north latitude and 51.6 degrees south latitude.

The International Space Station can be seen with the naked eye as it passes overhead, but the likelihood that you'll catch it at any given moment varies according to a number of factors. The ISS passes over the same spot on Earth once every three days, but it isn't necessarily visible each time it passes. During the day, the bright sky makes it nearly impossible to see the ISS, and at night the space station is in the Earth's shadow, and therefore it isn't reflecting sunlight.

The best times to spot the International Space Station are in the early mornings and evenings. You can sometimes spot it before dawn and after sunset when the sky is dark and the sun is high enough to be reflected off the ISS. With the exception of the moon, the ISS is the brightest object in the night sky - even brighter than Venus. Instead of blinking like most satellites, it appears as a steady point of light.

The space station takes only a few minutes to cross the sky, so if you're not looking in the right place at the right time, you'll miss it. To see when the ISS will be visible in your location, check out this NASA website. Also, this ESA website shows where the ISS is located right now.

Here's a video of ISS Expedition 30 astronauts Don Pettit, Andre Kuipers and Dan Burbank explaining the space station's orbital path:

RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Amazing Photos of the International Space Station (ISS)
International Space Station ISS


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Just seen The Movie Gravity, With George Clooney & Sandra Bullock. Movie did not make any sense at all. Don't waste your money !!!!

November 06 2013 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hi and bye

November 05 2013 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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