Stargazers are in for a rare treat tonight, with the ISS space station visible to the naked eye as it shoots over Australia. Here’s what you need to know about watching this awe-inspiring occurrence without a telescope.
Note: Missed yesterday’s flyover? There’s still a chance to see the ISS tonight. Click here and choose your city from the drop-down menu to see what time it will be passing overhead.
What time will the International Space Station be passing over?
The best time to view the ISS is a few hours after dusk. According to NASA, this is the optimum viewing period as the sun reflects off the space station and contrasts against the darker sky. It will appear low in the horizon.
— Lifehacker Australia (@LifehackerAU) February 16, 2020
Here are the optimal viewing times and compass directions for Australia’s capital cities:
Brisbane: 7:30 PM (10° above WNW)
Sydney: 8:31pm (11 degrees above NW)
Canberra: 8:31 PM (10° above NNW)
Perth: 8:41 PM (24° above SW)
Adelaide: 9:36 PM (10° above WNW)
Melbourne: 10:08 PM (11° above W)
Hobart: 10:09 PM (10° above WNW)
Darwin: 4:50 AM, Feb 17 (17° above SSE)
What does the ISS look like?
The International Space Station is the brightest man-made object in the sky. To the naked eye, it is not dissimilar to a moving star. Unlike an aeroplane, it doesn’t have flashing lights and it moves a lot faster (a cool 17,500 miles per hour).
How long will the ISS appear for?
Unlike eclipses and meteor showers, the ISS is only visible for a very short time. According to NASA, you can expect tonight’s viewing window to last between 3 and 6 minutes, depending on your location. In other words, be sure to be looking skyward a few minutes before the estimated time of appearance.
You may then talk to strangers about the wonders of the universe, like Tim and Eric: