Visible passes of the International Space Station and other satellites

The International Space Station (ISS) regularly passes through our skies. It appears like a very bright star moving from west to east, at an angular velocity similar to a plane, and taking a few minutes to cross the sky. During morning passes, especially the very early morning ones, the satellite may be in the Earth’s shadow, and therefore invisible, for the first part of a pass. Similarly, the satellite may enter the Earth’s shadow during the late evening passes, and disappear from view. Note that many other, fainter, satellites are also visible. The ISS is by far the brightest, being as large as a football pitch. The much-hyped Humanity Star satellite is likely to be extremely faint – almost never visible to the naked eye.

Click to open Heavens Above

The link, left, will take you directly to a page, configured for the latitude and longitude of St Peter Port, Guernsey, on the excellent Heavens Above web site which provides up-to-date predictions of the ISS and many other satellites.

Then click on “ISS” for Space Station predictions. The table then shows the local time, altitude (in degrees above the horizon) and compass direction to look when it first becomes visible; the time, altitude and direction when it reaches maximum altitude; and the time, altitude and direction when it disappears. In the evening the “end” time may be when it disappears into the Earth’s shadow; in the morning the “start” time may be when it emerges from the Earth’s shadow.

Of special interest are flares from the ‘Iridium’ satellites. You can get more accurate predictions for these flares by changing the location on the Heavens Above web site to your Guernsey parish, or Alderney, Sark or Herm by clicking on the map below.

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Also see: NASA ISS sighting information for Guernsey.