How Can I See the International Space Station (ISS) from Earth?

By Vince Matthews

The International Space Station (ISS) is a true marvel that shows what science and technology can accomplish. Since it was launched in November 2000, the ISS holds the record for long-duration crew occupation. ISS has logged more than 1.5 billion miles (that equals eight round trips around the sun) and has completed more than 57,000 Earth orbits.

Did you also know that you can see the ISS from earth, and with nothing more than the naked eye? It’s true. Because of the size of the space station (it could completely cover a football field) and because its panels reflect huge amounts of sunlight, all you need to know is where and when to look.


Astroviewer gives you an astronaut’s view of earth from ISS and a list of times and locations when the ISS can be seen.

How to Find the ISS from Earth
The best time to see the ISS is when the station is reflecting sunlight. NASA recommends early morning, before sunrise or in the evening after sunset. To locate where the ISS is right now, head over to the ISS Astroviewer site and follow these simple steps:

1. Click “Observation” in the navigation bar at the top of the website.

2. Select and “Search” your location.

3. Scan the list of visible passes and look for the one with the most green bars. (The green bars indicate the brightness of the ISS and the more green bars, the better chance you’ll have of seeing the space station.)

4. Note your orientation in relation to the map. If the ISS is traveling on a path north of your location, you’ll need to be facing north to see the station. Also make note of the altitude (i.e. how high the ISS is above the horizon).

Now grab a hot beverage and camp yourself outside during the sight time listed. See it? That tiny slow moving spec of light is ISS! You can also track the ISS using smartphone apps like Sky Guide.

Become a Rocket Scientist
With recent investments in private space exploration, such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and other advancements in aerospace, there’s no better time than the present to set your sights on the stars. The first step? Attend a rocket science summer camp this summer. You’ll be headed to Mars in no time.