SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Hey there, space lovers! We are in luck this week – we’ve got 2 opportunities to see the International Space Station. In this episode of Exploring the Atmosphere with Alysa, I’ll show you how to spot this week’s International Space Station viewing! It’s one of my favorite things to see in the night sky! Did you know that you won’t even need a telescope to see it?

Tonight’s Viewing

You can spot the International Space Station at 8:44 p.m. starting low in the southwestern sky. It will be a FAST fly by – you’ll only have 5 minutes to spot it. It will track towards the east-northeast. The highest point the ISS will reach in the sky will be at 71°. The viewing will end at 8:49 p.m. Sunset is at 7:33 this evening. Expect partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.

Friday’s Viewing

Our second flyby that you’ll be able to catch is on Friday. The International Space Station starts flying over us 7:55 p.m. in the low southwestern sky. It will be another fast fly by, but this time the viewing lasts one minute longer than tonight’s at 6 minutes. It will track towards the northeast. The highest point the ISS will reach in the sky will be at 61°. This will be a little lower in the sky compared to the flyby tonight. Sunset on Friday evening will be 7:28 pm. Expect a partly cloudy sky with temperatures in the mid-70s.

How to Find the Space Station

Finding a Good Spot

You’ll need to find a good spot to see it this week with it only being viewable for 5-6 minutes. The best time to see the space station is on a clear night without blocking obstructions. We will have a few clouds in the sky tonight and Friday, so keep that in mind. Still not a bad night to try to find the space station. Next face the direction the space station will appear in.

What You will see in the Sky

First off, it will not look as big as what you see in pictures. Instead, you will be looking for a white dot, slightly bigger than a star, moving quickly in one direction. It will sort of look like an airplane flying at night…except it won’t blink! 

Space Station flying over West Virginia – May 3, 2018

Step 3: Time to View International Space Station

When it is time to view the space station, this is when you’ll need to use the appearing, disappearing height degree and the peak max height.  Tonight: 10° appearing in the southwest and 35° disappearing in the east-northeast. The peak max height for this evening’s viewing is 71°.

Friday evening: 10° appearing in the southwest and 10° disappearing in the east-northeast. The peak max height for this evening’s viewing is 61°.

When looking in front of us to over our head, it makes a right angle. 90° is directly overhead and looking straight ahead is practically 0°. Any degree in between means the station will appear between the horizon to above your head. 

To Find the Correct Height

If you are unsure of exactly where to look in the sky, you can also stretch your fist at arm’s length toward the horizon to help find the correct height. The top of your fist would be 10° while 4 fists from the horizon would be around 40° and so on and so forth. This will help you find the starting and ending locations. When the ISS is at a higher angle, the better and easier it is to see!

Why we can see the Space Station

The international space station becomes so visible to us because it reflects the light from the sun, just like the moon. Each time it passes, it is in a different position at a different time. Either it’s very dim and not visible or incredibly bright and visible for several minutes!