We’re between meteor showers, but skywatchers can still see something special if they gaze into the heavens at night. The International Space Station is visible nightly and appears as a bright star moving quickly across the horizon. But it’s fleeting, so how can you know when it’s directly over Michigan?
NASA has a great tool, Spot the Station, that will send text or email alerts when ISS is visible from Michigan. The alert includes a map-based feature to track when and where to look for the station as it flies overhead.
The alerts typically go out a few times a month letting subscribers know when to look overhead. The window of opportunity is small — in some places, you’ll see it only for a couple of minutes, and it may be visible anywhere from once a month to several times a week.
If you don’t know, the International Space Station has been orbiting the Earth since 1998, when its first module was launched, and since 2000 has hosted a rotating international crew from the 16 nations that cooperated in the construction of a permanent human outpost in space. Astronauts are shuttled to the microgravity laboratory by U.S. and Russian spacecraft, and typically spend about six-month stints living and working in space.
Speaking of getting the crew to the space lab, there was some drama Thursday when a Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a new U.S.-Russian crew to the space station failed during its ascent, sending the crew capsule back toward Earth in a ballistic re-entry, NASA officials said. NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and crew members are all in good condition. They were to have joined a three-person crew already on board the space station.
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