Spotting the International Space Station

International Space StationIt has been an evening ritual just lately to find out when the ISS is passing overhead (via the heavens-above website) and then rush out and spot it. It’s amazing actually how bright it is, and how lots of people have not thought it was some sort of UFO.

After spotting it a couple of times, I then decided I wanted to try and get some images via my webcam and LX200, which can track satellites. I have seen video on YouTube from other people with similar telescopes and the video looks really good.

I began by downloading the latest ISS data from the Meade website, (which actually just links to another website) and installed it into Autostar.

I then read the LX200 manual about tracking satellites and I thought originally the LX200 would do everything for me and track automatically, but unfortunately this is not the case.

You actually have to allow the telescope to move in the path that the satellite is moving, but start your tracking once you see the object in the viewfinder, so really a bit hit and miss.

So far I have not managed to get it right, and track the ISS, but I’ll keep trying and see if I can get some video.


  • Dakota

    I am an astronomy buff and have been for many years. I have trouble sleeping almost every night. On those nights I go outside and smoke a cigarette and look up at the sky. With some regularity I spot what I believe are satellites passing overhead. I spotted an object the other night that appeared at first to be a bright star. It quickly dimmed and continued its path across the western sky. Most satellites I’ve seen fade very slowly as they pass. Was wondering if you or anyone you know might have some idea as to what it was. Also I’m very interested in tracking the ISS.


  • Daniel

    The ISS will usually appear brighter than standard satellites, which look like standard stars which move in a kind of straight line.

    The ISS can appear at varying brightnesses, and it is said the ISS can appear bright at the horizon and then get dimmer when above as it can get lost in the earth’s shadow.

    There are programs which can help you track satellites and the ISS including the free stellarium program or Starry Night Pro.

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