We are surrounded by meteor showers, but skywatchers can still see something special when they look at the sky at night. The international space station ISS is visible at night and appears as a bright star that moves quickly over the horizon. But it is fleeting, so how can you know when it is directly over North Carolina?
NASA has a great tool, Spot the Station, which will send SMS or e-mail alerts when ISS is visible from North Carolina. The warning contains a card-based function to track when and where to search for the station as it flies over the ground.
The warnings usually go out a few times a month to let subscribers know when to look overhead. The game of chance is small – in some places you can only see it for a few minutes and it is possible to see it from once a month to several times a week.
If you do not know, the international space station has been in orbit since 1998, when the first module was launched and since 2000 has received a rotating international crew from the 16 countries that have contributed to the construction of a permanent human outpost in space. Astronauts are taken to the Microgravity Laboratory by American and Russian spacecraft and usually spend about six months living and working in space.
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Speaking to take the crew to the space lab, there was a drama on Thursday when a Russian Soyuz rocket with a new American-Russian crew failed to the space station during its ascent and returned the crew capsule to earth in a ballistic re-entry, NASA officials said. NASA astronaut Nick Hague, the Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and the crew members are all in good condition. They would have joined a three-room team on board the space station.
You can not see the international space station during the day, but it becomes visible at night when it reflects the light from the sun. So to see it in North Carolina, it must be both dark and the ISS must happen by chance.
If you live in Alaska or other northern latitudes, go to Spot the Station on the NASA website to see when you are likely to see the groundbreaking science laboratory. You can also sign up for the notifications.
OK, the space station does not produce fireballs and leaves no traces. But it is still pretty cool and does not just offer a glimpse of the future when NASA explores other worlds, but also benefits life on earth. Looking for the space station with your children is a great opportunity to bring science to life – an area where we earthlings in this corner of the world lag behind other countries.
Check out the space station's activity guide for things you can do with your children when the space station is over your head.
Original article from Beth Dalbey, Patch Staff
Photo of Astronaut James H. Newman via NASA
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