As claimed by the scientists, the International Space Station (ISS), which is the biggest man-made object flying in space, can be spotted from anywhere on our planet provided the required conditions. The huge space station is orbiting the Earth at a distance of near about two hundred fifty miles above the surface with a velocity of near about seventeen thousand five hundred mph.
As per the latest reports, people in Phoenix, Tucson, Arizona, will be able to spot the International Space Station in moving in the sky clearly with their naked eyes.
ISS tweeted “Looking bright down there, Phoenix and Tuscon, Arizona! And we’re looking bright up here — the space station will make an appearance in your skies around 7:50 pm MT tonight!”
Looking bright down there, Phoenix and Tuscon, Arizona! And we're looking bright up here — the space station will make an appearance in your skies around 7:50 pm MT tonight! 🛰️
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) April 5, 2020
It is genuine to believe the object to be very small for viewing with the naked eyes. Nevertheless, as said by the scientists, it can be very easily spotted in the night sky without the help of any viewing equipment. An expert said “You can’t miss the ISS, even in urban areas, as it is as bright as Venus [the third brightest natural object in the sky].” Further, he added, “It will appear like a plane at first, but you will notice the steady movement without flashing lights as it grows brighter.”
That being said, certain conditions are required to get a view of the ISS. For that, the viewers need to plan the day and be sure that the night sky is free of clouds. As said by NASA, “The space station is visible because it reflects the light of the Sun – the same reason we can see the Moon.” Further, the space agency added, “However, unlike the Moon, the space station isn’t bright enough to see during the day. It can only be seen when it is dawn or dusk at your location.” The ISS also cannot be viewed during its flight through the shadow of the Earth as at that time there would be no sunlight available for the space station for reflecting it back to our planet.
The visibility of the space station on any particular day depends on two factors- the time during which it travels overhead and its orbit. The space station does not always travel overhead at the same time. Sometimes during its travel overhead, it is really bright to be spotted for around 5 minutes whereas at the other times the ISS is too dim to be seen for long.
Although no telescope is required for spotting the ISS yet a telescope can help to spot it during its pass by the “face of the sun or moon,” called the transit. However, this requires proper planning as the space station passes too fast to catch a glimpse.
Moreover, International Space Station is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbits. Launched in 1998, it is the largest artificial body in the orbit that can be seen by naked eyes on several occasions. The station is suited for the testing of spacecraft systems and equipment required for missions to the Moon and Mars. ISS revolves around the at a height of around 400 km and it completes 15.54 orbits per day.