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NASA launches new app to see the International Space Station

On Thursday, NASA launched a new app to make it easier than ever to spot the International Space Station in the night sky. NASA has long operated the Spot the Station website, but its new app, available on both iPhone and Android, brings augmented reality features and a handy interface to learn more about the orbiting laboratory.

The International Space Station is most visible in the early morning or evening at times when the sun is not up but its light is still hitting and reflecting off of the orbiting station. The app breaks down when the station will be over your location at the optimal time for it to shine brightest, including how long it will appear in the sky, how high it will appear, and the direction of travel.

“Even after 23 years of continuous human presence aboard the International Space Station, it’s incredibly exciting to see the station when you look up at just the right moment,” said Robyn Gatens, International Space Station director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The orbiting laboratory that continues to provide so many unique, tangible benefits for humanity really isn’t that far out of reach.”

The app’s main page includes a countdown until the next possible sighting, as well as a globe and map of the ISS’s current position. There is also a full-page tracker view to follow the station’s location. You can also enable notifications to ensure you never miss a pass overhead.

The second page is perhaps the most useful of the new app, providing an augmented reality view to help you find the station in the sky. While apps like SkyView have long offered AR features to explore the night sky (and includes planets, stars, and constellations), NASA’s Spot the Station app is a totally free and ad-free option.

The resources page ties into NASA’s extensive collection of writing available on It pulls the latest news posts related to crew activity on the Space Station, offers extra reading about the ISS, its crew, and its history of international cooperation, and provides a fact sheet with some general information about the ISS.

Of course, you can also read more about the ISS and all things space over on our sister site, Space Explored. In just a few days, CRS-29 is set to launch more supplies to the International Space Station.

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