NASA alerts sent when space station passes homes

Space buffs can now be notified by phone or email when the International Space Station is passing over their homes, NASA says.

Anyone signing onto a new "Spot the Station" service will receive an email or text message a few hours before the orbiting laboratory comes within sight in their part of the world, the agency said.

"It's really remarkable to see the space station fly overhead and to realize humans built an orbital complex that can be spotted from Earth by almost anyone looking up at just the right moment," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, in a statement on Friday.

The space station is usually visible at dawn or at dusk, when it is the brightest object in the night sky other than the moon, the agency said.

However, users will only be notified of "good" viewing opportunities, when the station is positioned high enough in the sky to be seen over buildings and trees, and the sighting will last long enough to be viewed fully.

The Johnson Space Center in Houston calculates the sighting information for more than 4,600 locations worldwide several times a week, NASA said.

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