I've seen it. Have you?

The moon and the space station in the night sky
The moon and the space station in the night sky

The first time I saw the International Space Station fly overhead was on a fall day, two years ago. It was a long, five- or six-minute pass early one morning before work. I wrote about it then:

I started by looking at stationary “stars” and watching closely to see if they appeared to be moving. I stared at one pretty bright object for like a minute and nothing. So I looked to the right and there was another pretty bright “star,” so I focused on it and after about 30 seconds was like “Yeah, that thing is now higher in the sky than it was when I first looked.” So I just stood there and watched it slowly float over my head and then over my house and then out of sight.

When it got almost straight above me it was so bright and twinkly that my jaw dropped just in amazement of what I was seeing. I wasn’t amazed that there is this man-made spacecraft carrying men and women around in space, even though that is amazing. I was amazed that I could see it. That something that seems so, so far away I could see, and I could see it moving.


Since then I’ve seen it quite a few times — the station by itself, the station with the space shuttle docked to it, and the station with the shuttle trailing behind it. It never ceases to amaze me every time.

This past week I was with some friends on a night the station was going to pass over and asked my friends: “Would it be too geeky of me to want to go outside and watch the station pass over?” My friends were good enough to go outside with me. A few had seen it before. For some, it was the first time ever. Watching their reactions, I remembered the awe I felt the first time I saw it, and I was thrilled to share that opportunity now with several friends. One friend called another on the phone and told them to go outside right then and see it. That was exciting to see them excited to call and tell someone else.

What about you? Have you seen the station? The shuttle? Both? Any cool stories about seeing NASA spacecraft fly overhead? If you haven’t seen it, go to NASA’s Sighting Opportunities website to find out when the station, space shuttle and other spacecraft will be flying over where you live. You can also use the NASA Skywatch website.

3 thoughts on “I've seen it. Have you?”

  1. I saw the station fly near the moon 15 minutes before STS-131 launched. I was on the NASA Causeway waiting for the launch. That was a view that I will never forget.

  2. That sounds so awesome, I am lucky to see the stars with all the light pollution near me!

  3. As a student intern at Johnson Space Center, I had the opportunity to take a road trip to Kennedy with other student employees and watch the STS-129 and STS-130 launches. Being onsite for the STS-130 was amazing, because we got to watch the ISS pass overhead, then the shuttle launched (we were close enough to feel the heat and vibration!), and shortly after that, the sun rose and lit up the exhaust trail in interesting ways. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

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