NASA: How to spot the International Space Station in Pennsylvania

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FILE – This July 19, 2011 photo of the International Space Station was taken from the space shuttle Atlantis. On Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, NASA said that the two Russians and one American on board were awakened late Monday to hurriedly seal hatches between compartments and search for the ongoing leak, which appeared to be getting worse. It was the third time in just over a month that the crew had to isolate themselves on the Russian side, in an attempt to find the growing leak. (NASA via AP)

(WTAJ) — According to NASA, you will be able to catch a glimpse of the International Space Station (ISS) from now until Tuesday, July 6, depending on what area of Pennsylvania you’re in.

Before taking a look at the locator chart NASA provides on its “Spot The Station” site, there are some things to understand so you can prepare.

What am I looking for?

“The ISS looks like an airplane or a very bright star moving across the sky, except it doesn’t have flashing lights or change direction,” NASA said on its site. “It will also be moving considerably faster than a typical airplane.”

Click here to view a gallery of what the ISS looks like traveling through the sky on NASA’s website.

The ISS is the third brightest object in the sky, but knowing what you’re looking for will help you find it.

Where am I looking?

Where you’re looking depends on what area of Pennsylvania you live in. The times you can spot it will be fairly similar, though there are some slight differences.

The point in the sky it will be visible is measured in degrees from the horizon.

The horizon represents 0 degrees. NASA said if you hold your fist at arm’s length and place your fist resting on the horizon, the top will be about 10 degrees.

The letters on the chart will represent compass directions. (i.e. N = north, WNW = west by northwest)

What time am I looking?

Similar to where you’re looking, the time it’s visible will depend on your exact location. However, since we share the same time zone, there will be minor differences.

All sightings will occur within a few hours before or after the sunrise or sunset. NASA said this is the optimum viewing period as the sun reflects off the space station and contrasts against the darker sky.

The ISS will only be visible for a few minutes at most, so make sure to double-check so you don’t miss it.

What next?

Given how specific the location and time necessary to view the ISS, go to NASA’s “Spot The Station” locator map. There, you’ll type your nearest city or town. Once you do so, click the “view sighting opportunities” on the nearest blue pin.

After that, NASA has a chart that details where and when the ISS will be visible for you.

For more information on the ISS, you can also visit NASA’s FAQ.

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