The International Space Station will offer just one good chance for spotting it with the naked eye as it orbits Earth this week, and that best chance comes tonight.
To catch the space station at it moves through the sky over central Pennsylvania look to the west-northwest sky at 7:31 p.m. Monday, September 21. The space station will appear at 45 degrees about the horizon and over the next 4 minutes will rise to a maximum height of 53 degrees before disappearing at 11 degrees above northeast.
NASA explains, “The horizon is at zero degrees, and directly overhead is 90 degrees. If you hold your fist at arm’s length and place your fist resting on the horizon, the top will be about 10 degrees.” Each additional fist-width above the horizon is roughly another 10 degrees of elevation.
NASA doesn’t issue one of its Spot the Station alerts for anything less than 40 degrees, and the space station is not expected to meet or top that point again this week.
According to NASA, “the space station looks like an airplane or a very bright star moving across the sky, except it doesn’t have flashing lights or change direction. It will also be moving considerably faster than a typical airplane (airplanes generally fly at about 600 miles per hour; the space station flies at 17,500 miles per hour).”
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