So you want to know when the International Space Station is in sight of your location. How do you find out? What about other satellites or even an irridium flare? Follow these steps for space watching fun.
The important thing to look for is that planes and satellites have big differences. A plane will have flashing navigation lights- satellites and ISS do NOT!
The station is in orbit between 278 km (173 miles) and 460 km (286 miles) altitude, and travels at an average ground speed of 27,724 km (17,227 miles per hour, completing 15.7 orbits per day.
*PLEASE NOTE* This blog post is aimed at UK sky watchers. Please select your country instead.
Using sites like http://www.heavens-above.com/ can be confusing the first couple of times that you use them. Here I go through each step so you can see within 60 seconds of when the ISS will be in the skies near your home.
Open The heavens Above website in another tab…. Then come back..
Now near the top of the page you will see in the text some links in blue.
First ones are: Select from map. and the second says: From Database.
Click on From Database.
Then select “U”
This selection will give you all the countries beginning with “U”
Select “United Kingdom”
Select “Your Town” this is the town or city in which you live. I live in Marlow, Buckinghamshire and on Hevens Above two are listed so make sure you get the right one or you will miss it!
When you have done that you are taken back to the home page and you may wonder what the?…. Not to worry this is correct as now you need to select which you want to go and see fly over.
Select ISS and this will give you a table showing the following:
Date – Brightness – time of visible flight start – Altitude in dgress – Direction where to be looking – Time of Max Altitude – Max Altitude – direction – time of end – Altitude – direction.
The time are almost always spot on! So be out a min or so before and find a good spot away from street light view for best viewing experience.
Any questions please post them in the comments below and I will reply!
If you want to photograph the ISS, you are going to need a tripod and usually a slow shutter speed to give you a light trail image of a pass (solid white line) Manual focus just inside of infinity and open the shutter for around 15 seconds at F4-F5.6 ISO 200.