Our clear summer nights offer up great opportunities to gather ’round the family and neighbors to spot some easily seen man-made satellites. We spent this evening with our neighbors and their young children watching our local overflight of the International Space Station; instant awe!
One of the most easily seen objects in the night or early morning sky is the International Space Station. Traveling at 17,000 miles per hour, the ISS is generally one of the brightest objects in the night sky and easily seen with the naked eye making it an excellent opportunity to introduce even quite young children to sky watching and the concept(s) of space and how close “space” really is; after all, if there was a road, you literally could drive there in a day.
There are several APPs available for tracking near earth objects, I like the ease of “Star Walk” available for iPhone and iPad as it allows you to track man made objects as well as constellations and planets. However, for tracking the International Space Station (ISS), there is a NASA notification system that will send you an email notification or a text message when the ISS visible in your area: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov
Alternately, you can access NASA’s Human Space Flight page to find information regarding each ISS Mission, science, photographs, Mission Control updates and history as well as an option that allows you to select viewing opportunities from most geographic locations. It’s a great page with a wealth of information about manned space flight: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/home/index.html
Last, but certainly not least, NASA has an APP that has information on most of the current and past missions as well as Press Releases, a Consolidated Launch Schedule, videos and so much more! Available in the App Store and on the main NASA website, www.nasa.gov