Don't Miss the International Space Station Flybys This Week

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The ISS will, for a few minutes at a time, outshine everything in the skies over Europe and North America except for the moon

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As I write this, the International Space Station (ISS) is flying over the Atlantic Ocean, slightly northeast of the Horn of Africa. Tonight and tomorrow night, the ISS will be visible (and very bright) from where I'm currently sitting inside of the Watergate for a few minutes just after 8:00 p.m. The Station will make several passes over North America and Europe throughout the week, and you don't want to miss it. "While it's overhead, the space station will outshine everything in the evening sky except the moon," according to Wired Science's Lisa Grossman. But you'll have to pay attention; it won't stick around for more than five minutes. Here's how you can make sure that you're ready and waiting when the ISS flies overhead:

Satellite Flybys: If you're an Android or iPhone user, this site will send an alert directly to your smartphone when an interesting flyby -- the International Space Station, Hubble, astronauts, etc. -- is approaching. "'Satellite Flybys' turns your iPhone or iPod Touch into an indispensable, field-tested satellite watching tool," according to the website. "It tells you when spacecraft are about to appear (with a countdown clock!), which direction you should face, and even turns down the screen brightness to boost night vision. It also cuts through much confusion. There are thousands of spacecraft in Earth orbit. 'Satellite flybys' tell you only about the most interesting and newsworthy objects."

Spaceweather.com's Satellite Flybys: It doesn't get much simpler than this. Visit Spaceweather's satellite flyby prediction page, enter your zip code (this only works for this in the United States and Canada) and the site will return a list of satellites and local times for when they'll be visible from your neigborhood. "There are hundreds of satellites in Earth orbit; we cut through the confusion by narrowing the list to a half-dozen or so of the most interesting," according to Spaceweather.com's website. "At the moment we are monitoring a number of spy satellites, space shuttle Atlantis, the International Space Station, and the Hubble Space Telescope."

NASA's Space Station Sighting: This page pulls together flight information compiled by the Johnson Space Center's Orbit Flight Dynamics Group to give you local times when an ISS sighting will be possible from a location near you. It also provides viewing tips so that you don't miss the space station as it makes its brief appearance in your local skies and allows you to track where the ISS is at any given moment and trace its path.

Image: NASA. H/T: Wired.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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