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After a brief absence and some extremely early morning appearances, the International Space Station (ISS) returns to the night sky, and you can watch as it crosses the stars.
The orbiting science platform is home to, on average, six people at a time. As it orbits roughly 400 kilometres above Earth, depending on its location, sunlight reflects off its solar panels. Here on the ground, we see it as a bright, star-like object moving across the sky.
Spotting the space station is one of those fun things you can do from anywhere, including in cities that often miss night-sky treats.
The ISS will be visible until early June. This weekend provides a great viewing opportunity.
Here’s when you can see it. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can try spotting it just as it rises in the west where it will be fairly close to Venus, which will be extremely low on the horizon. (If you head out earlier, you’ll find Venus, the brightest object in the sky, higher in the west.)
All times, which are local, are the times at which the ISS rises above the horizon. It takes a few minutes for it to reach its highest point.
From vantage points farther east, the ISS will cross the sky farther to the north.
After you’ve spotted the station, here’s an added bonus: turn to the south and find Jupiter. If you have a pair of binoculars, you can even see four of its largest moons.
You can find times for other towns and cities, either using NASA’s Spot the Station site or Heaven’s Above (which will also give you a sky map if you click on the date). You can also use the sites to find times for other upcoming passes.