How to See the International Space Station From Where You Live

To see when the International Space Station is scheduled to fly over your neighborhood, use NASA’s online tool.
Coming soon to a sky near you.
Coming soon to a sky near you. / Handout/GettyImages

Space-loving Londoners received an extra gift on Christmas morning. Just as Santa was wrapping up his annual sleigh ride, the International Space Station made an appearance in the skies above the British capital. The satellite resembled a shooting star streaking over the Western horizon at 7:22 a.m., Greenwich Mean Time. 

If you missed that festive flyover, don’t fret: The ISS is constantly orbiting the planet, and there will be plenty of chances to spot it from around the globe in the new year. To see when it’s scheduled to visit your corner of the world next, check out Spot The Station.

Spot The Station is an online tool from NASA that plugs data from the International Space Station’s orbit path into an interactive map. Anyone can use it by entering their home city or town into the search bar. This will bring up a map of your area with pins showing upcoming sighting opportunities. 

Click a specific location to see when exactly the spacecraft is set to fly over it in the next couple of weeks. Each listed appearance includes the object’s exact position in the sky as well the duration of its visibility, so you can be fully prepared to spot it when you stumble into your backyard early in the morning. As is the case with celestial events like meteor showers, the space station is easiest to spot in wide, open spaces with minimal light pollution. It makes its most dramatic showings around sunrise, when there’s enough sunlight to illuminate the metal craft without washing out the early morning sky. 

The ISS is fast, hurtling above the planet at 5 miles-per-second. As a result, it completes a full orbit of Earth once every 90 minutes, giving sky-gazers plenty of chances to spot it if they know when and where to look.