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NASA 'Spot The Station' Space Station Sighting Alerts FREE

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  • NASA 'Spot The Station' Space Station Sighting Alerts FREE

    Hi everyone.

    NASA has a free service called 'SPOT THE STATION' that will notify you for free by email or sms (your choice) whenever there's good viewing potential from your position on our planet.

    No, they are not tracking you- the coordinates and time of appearance, duration, etc, will be nearly the same for a large geographical area, because the Space Station is traveling at a very high altitude, 205 miles above the Earth (330KM.) It's moving at a rate of 17,001 mph! (27,600 km/hr) That's about 5 miles per second.

    I've been enjoying this free service from NASA for about 2 years, and everyone I've shared it with has loved it. Tonight I renewed my registration for the year so thought I'd post the link here.

    NASA Spot The Station Alerts: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

    It's an amazing experience to watch the International Space Station soar silently over your head...when you see the huge arc it's following you realize it's in orbit. It's breath-taking! My Dad worked on the Space Station, so yes, I'm an enthusiast, but it's a wonderful experience for kids and adults alike. Bundle up the kids & let them watch from a hammock, they'll love it!

    If you wish to register just enter your email address or sms info, follow the instructions & verify that you want to be contacted. (You can cancel whenever you wish.) When the shuttle will be in a good position for viewing you'll get an email that tells you something like "Today, 7:54 pm, appearing WSW at 60 degrees, visible 6 minutes, disappearing ENE". Short and sweet; no spam of any kind.

    It will pass right over your head. Get out away from city lights if you can, but the Space Station is the 3rd brightest object in the sky so can be seen even from towns and cities.

    Just remember, the Space Station has an enormous steady golden light like a very bright star, and is perfectly silent- NO noise like an airplane engine and NO red or green blinking lights. (This info will help you not accidentally track a buzzing airplane the first time the Space Station appears over the horizon.)

    Have fun!
    Archaic

  • #2
    Great. I'm all signed up and ready to look up.

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    • #3
      Thanks for this. I've signed up as well.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by PaulB View Post
        Great. I'm all signed up and ready to look up.
        Yay! You'll love it Paul. You too, Dave.

        The first time I "spotted" the Space Station it was a perfectly clear night out in the countryside. There was almost no ambient light from neighboring houses, and I had wide open pastures in front of me.
        I was standing out in the dark with my dog watching the WSW horizon, not sure if the time was just approximate and mistaking a couple of planes that appeared a few minutes earlier, but right on the dot I suddenly saw a brilliant golden light appear over a forest of tall evergreen trees in the distance.

        I was curious to see the Space Station, but I honestly didn't expect the experience to be as exciting as it was.

        As the Station approached and its brilliant golden light got bigger and bigger, I was surprised that it seemed to be heading straight towards me! It soared right over my head in silent majesty, and I felt an unexpected rush of emotion.

        I actually felt proud of Mankind - proud that we had built such a magnificent craft for peaceful purposes in the pursuit of knowledge; proud of all the courageous international astronauts working together on each mission; and incredibly proud of my Dad for having been part of its creation.

        Since then I've told many friends about 'Spot the Station' and all of them said afterward, "Wow, I thought it would be kind of interesting, but I didn't expect it to be that cool."

        I really hope you guys get to see it soon! Just make sure you know its trajectory, and try to choose a clear viewing area that lets you see a large swathe of sky. It's often visible for 4-6 minutes.

        You can also move a good distance from your home coordinates and still see view the station, because it's so high and moving so fast. (Though for some reason it doesn't seem to be moving any faster than a small plane.)

        I've been 35 miles away from my home, yet the Space Station still showed up from the same direction at the same time NASA had predicted...and it still went right over our heads!

        Cheers,
        Bunny

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        • #5
          I just signed up too.

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          • #6
            Hi Bunny,

            I've just this minute signed in myself and showed your posts to Per-Åke. Thanks for sharing this with us.

            Carol

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            • #7
              Thank you so much.. I just signed up as well.. look foward to my first sighting...


              Steadmund Brand--
              "The truth is what is, and what should be is a fantasy. A terrible, terrible lie that someone gave to the people long ago."- Lenny Bruce

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              • #8
                Hi Carol, Penhalion, and Steadmund.

                When I renewed my yearly NASA sign-up the other day I happened to catch sight of the figure for the number of people signed up for Spot the Station - it's such a cool free service I expected it to be in the millions. It was some measly number like 310,000 and I was utterly shocked.

                I think NASA needs to promote Spot The Station and get more people interested in real Science... for starters, every student of any age needs to experience it at least once. So I decided to post the Spot The Station web-page for everyone here, and maybe you can tell others.

                It's funny so many people sit around the TV watching mind-numbing junk all evening,
                when if you just go outside and LOOK UP you can participate something absolutely amazing!

                The Station was just in my neck of the woods a couple of times this week at approximately 7:00 pm, but it's been very overcast. (Looks like our long hot beautiful Indian Summer is finally over, and the ''Seattle Rain Festival" is upon us.) Hoping I will get another chance next week.

                Usually the Station will come around at a certain time one night, then the next night on same trajectory but maybe at different height & will appear a few minutes later, and that often happens for 3-4 nights in a row.

                I'm not sure how the astronauts choose their course, but last year it always appeared from the WSW & disappeared ENE, and this go-round it's appearing from the WNW still heading ENE. They must be doing a different loop of the globe.

                I'm eager to see where in the world the station will be visible next, and which of you will get to see it.

                Anybody got a decent camera that can take night shots?

                Best regards,
                Archaic

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                • #9
                  Hi Archaic,

                  I'm sure there are LOTS of us on here who would love to hear more about your Dad and his work on the Space Station. Of course, thinking about it, you might not be allowed to say anything more!

                  Yours hopefully,

                  Carol

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                  • #10
                    Top Secret

                    Originally posted by Carol View Post
                    Hi Archaic,

                    I'm sure there are LOTS of us on here who would love to hear more about your Dad and his work on the Space Station. Of course, thinking about it, you might not be allowed to say anything more!

                    Yours hopefully,

                    Carol
                    Funny you should say that - in the late 1990s my Dad took my nephew on a cross-country trip, to visit old friends, Navy pals, fellow Aerospace engineers, National Parks, etc. When they were near Washignton DC my Dad decided to take his grandson to the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian.

                    My Dad had a very high Security Clearance; he was an Senior Staff Aerospace Engineer and Program Manager for gigantic projects. Turns out the Smithsonian had an entire exhibition on a top-secret Space/Defense program that my father had worked on - but he didn't know it had ever been declassified! He had never even told my Mom!!

                    My Dad told me he stood there in shock with his mouth open - there were big displays, banners, etc, all describing the "classified" program, and here he was still keeping it secret!

                    I teased him about that for years, and he always laughed about it too. His big regret was that he didn't tell my Mother about the project, because he didn't know he could. I'm trying to recall what the name of the program was... aarrgh. He worked on so many, going back before the Apollos. I'll try to think of it.

                    When I get some free time a little later I'll explain what my worked on re: the International Space Station. His usual speciality was Rockets, but it had to do with the Solar Arrays, the enormous folding solar panels that power the Space Station.

                    Cheers,
                    Archaic

                    PS: When I was little, maybe 7 or 8, I remember my Dad got a new brown leather briefcase for his birthday. It had a combination lock on it, which impressed us kids.

                    I said, "Daddy, set the combination to 007!" and he laughingly did. I thought that was so cool! I took it seriously, and never told anybody the combination. I was ready to walk the plank before divulging it.

                    - Looking back, obviously my Dad didn't carry secure materials around in that briefcase!!
                    Last edited by Archaic; 10-18-2014, 10:45 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Hi Bunny,

                      I'm very impressed! Looking forward to hearing more about your Dad when you have time.

                      Carol

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                      • #12
                        N.A.S.A have just cancelled its proposed mission to send a probe to casebook to look for intelligent life.A spokesman is quoted as saying the prospect of the mission succeeding was just far to remote.
                        Three things in life that don't stay hidden for to long ones the sun ones the moon and the other is the truth

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by pinkmoon View Post
                          N.A.S.A have just cancelled its proposed mission to send a probe to casebook to look for intelligent life.A spokesman is quoted as saying the prospect of the mission succeeding was just far to remote.
                          Glad to see you've cheered up a bit, pinkmoon!

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                          • #14
                            I'm still bored
                            Three things in life that don't stay hidden for to long ones the sun ones the moon and the other is the truth

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                            • #15
                              'Spot the Station' Message Today

                              Hi guys. I got an 'Spot the Station' email today. This is what it says:

                              Time: Tues Oct 21 6:59 PM, Visible: 5 min, Max Height: 46 degrees, Appears: WNW, Disappears, E.

                              Crossing my fingers that the clouds will clear away by evening, because the Space Station will be comparatively "low" in the sky and visible for a very long time - plus the Orionids Meteor Shower is occurring!

                              I saw a meteor flit by once while watching the Space Station approach, and that was pretty cool!

                              I'll let you know how it goes.

                              Best regards,
                              Archaic

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