Nasa station a text away

Nasa is giving amateur Wairarapa astronomers the opportunity to spot the International Space Station as it flies across the sky.

Nasa's Spot the Station service sends you an email or text message a few hours before the space station passes over your house.

After the sun and moon, Nasa says the space station is the third brightest object in the sky and is easy to see if you know where and when to look for it.

At over 300km above the ground the space station looks like a fast-moving plane and is best viewed on clear nights.

Astronomer Ron Fisher said the service was similar to the website that he had been using for the past 10 years, which picked up not only the space station, but also other bright satellites and Iridium flares - bright flashes that come off the solar panels of satellites.

"You put in your GPS location, wherever you are on the globe it will format exactly where to look in the sky, which direction and exactly which moment."

Easy access to astronomical information with modern technology made it easier for amateur astronomers, he said.

"If you're doing any public astronomy, you always look out for when the space station might be going over at that time."

The space station is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit - its ownership and use established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements.

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Astronomers will also be looking skyward today for a solar eclipse. Stonehenge Aotearoa, near Carterton, is offering a viewing today, with special telescopes and glasses to allow the eclipse to be viewed safely. About 70 per cent of the eclipse totality will be visible between 9.15am and 11.45am.


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