Three great chances to spot the Space Station in our night sky this week


The International Space Station will offer a trio of strong chances for spotting it as it orbits Earth this week.

The best chance comes for four minutes beginning at 5:35 a.m. Wednesday, August 26, when the ISS will appear at 15 degrees above southwest, rise to maximum height of 89 degrees in the sky and then disappear at 40 degrees above northeast.

Lesser, but still very strong, opportunities will be:

  • Thursday, August 27, for two minutes beginning at 4:50 a.m., when the ISS will appear at 46 degrees above south-southeast, rise to 50 degrees and then disappear at 26 degrees above east-northeast.
  • Saturday, August 29, for two minutes beginning at 4:51 a.m., when the ISS will appear at 51 degrees above northwest, rise to 53 degrees and then disappear at 24 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-depth 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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Contact Marcus Schneck at mschneck@pennlive.com.



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