A couple weeks ago, the International Space Station celebrated its 12th consecutive year of occupation, and NASA introduced a new tool to find it in the night sky. By signing up for Spot the Station, curious earthlings can receive email or text message alerts when the ISS is visible above their home.
To register for the alerts, you’ll need to submit your country, state, city and a valid email address. Spot the Station is available worldwide to anyone with an email account or SMS-enabled phone, but because the system is email-based, in order to receive alerts on your phone, you’ll have to use your carrier’s email-to-SMS service, something NASA will help you out with when you register.
The updates comes straight from Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, which determines sighting opportunities for 4,600 locations worldwide, several times a week. Even if your specific city is not listed, you should be able to see the station anyway. Considering the ISS floats about 200 miles above the Earth, it’s visible for a long distance around each of the listed locations.
Morning an evening alerts are both available based on your preference and once you’re signed the alerts you receive will detail the time the ISS will be visible, from what direction it will first appear, and how long it will be visible in your area. According to NASA, we’ll be looking for a “fast moving point of light, similar in size and brightness to the planet Venus.”