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Beep! NASA here, a 400 tonne spacecraft is about to buzz your house

Quite high up, fortunately

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US space agency NASA, to mark twelve years' continuous occupation of the International Space Station, has set up a service which will alert users round the world when good chances to see the station pass over are about to occur.

Under favourable conditions the ISS is the third brightest object in the sky, outshone only by the Sun and Moon. According to a NASA statement:

When the space station is visible - typically at dawn and dusk - it is the brightest object in the night sky, other than the moon. On a clear night, the station is visible as a fast moving point of light, similar in size and brightness to the planet Venus. "Spot the Station" users will have the options to receive alerts about morning, evening or both types of sightings.

The "Spot the Station" website, where anyone can sign up to receive alerts ahead of good sighting opportunities at their home location, adds:

Did you know you can see the International Space Station from your house?

NASA’s Spot the Station service sends you an email or text message a few hours before the space station passes over your house. The space station looks like a fast-moving plane in the sky, though one with people living and working aboard it more than 200 miles above the ground. It is best viewed on clear nights.

The station, as regular Reg readers will know, has many impressive features apart from looking nearly as big as a planet. It has the most powerful solar array every put into space by humanity, and the most advanced urine recycling machinery in the Solar System. This had to be installed following the departure of the space shuttles, which had formerly offered copious supplies of drinking water generated as exhaust products in their fuel-cell power systems. ®

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