Moonrise from space
Science & Exploration

Spot the Space Station looking at you

01/07/2014 16848 views 77 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Blue dot

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and five astronauts from America and Russia are flying on the International Space Station 400 km above us – but did you know they are sharing live views of our planet and you can even see their home at night?

Circling Earth at 28 800 km/h, it takes only 90 minutes to complete a circuit of our planet – while cameras transmit the incredible view for everybody to see.

Southern tip of South America
Southern tip of South America

Find out where the Station is and enjoy the same views as the astronauts by visiting ESA’s Space Station tracker. The orbital outpost flies over the planet between latitudes 52ºN/S, reaching from the tip of South America to the UK.

As it skims overhead, it looks like a bright star travelling smoothly across the heavens. Unlike aircraft, though, its light holds steady and it will always appear from the west and head eastwards.

ESA’s app for Apple smartphones and tablets keeps you updated on the trajectories of all ESA satellites, including the Space Station. Alternatively go to NASA's Spot the Station website and enter your city to receive alerts of when it next flies over your area.

Share the view

Station over Darmstadt
Station over Darmstadt

Taking a picture as the astronauts streak through the night sky is not difficult. Keep your camera steady on a tripod and make sure your exposure time is more than 30 seconds. If all goes well, you should capture a white streak that is the Station flying at 23 times the speed of sound.

Make the picture more interesting by framing a landmark in the foreground and share your creation with the world. Tweet the image with the hashtag #SpotTheStation with the location in brackets such as {Berlin, Germany} and your image will automatically be added to an interactive map.

A window on the world
A window on the world

Spot the Station is a joint project by NASA, Esri, the Canadian Centre of Geographic Sciences and Alexander’s crewmate Reid Wiseman. The locations and images will be collected throughout their mission until Alexander, Reid and commander Maxim Suraev return to Earth in November.

Get your camera ready, look up and hope for cloudless nights.

Space Station over Earth
Space Station over Earth

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