Want to view the International Space Station up close and personal?
According to Space.com, it's somewhat of a commitment. Actually, it requires that you are in amazing physical condition and have at least a bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics, as well as three years of professional experience before you are even considered for the selection process.
With this in mind, only a diehard astronaut hopeful will commit to this lengthy and demanding journey. However, you can still view this marvel of human ingenuity from a distance with both feet firmly planted in Vancouver soil (or grass, or pavement - you get the picture). In fact, the International Space Station is viewable from the Lower Mainland on numerous occasions - but you'll have to know exactly where and when to look for it.
Luckily, tonight is one of those nights, weather permitting.
Stargazers can set their alarms for around 9:45; the station will be viewable at 9:50 p.m.
Vancouver !— Ignazio Magnani (@IgnazioMagnani) May 20, 2020
The International Space Station is visible today to the naked eye (if clouds allow) at 9:50 pm
set your alarm
ESA NASA https://t.co/ARZX2v53Jy pic.twitter.com/k1UecX0gMV
While the cloud cover may make viewing difficult tonight, there are a number of viewing opportunities in the upcoming days. NASA outlines them with this user-friendly tool HERE.
Of course, knowing where and when to look is only half the battle - you'll also have to know what to look for.
So, what exactly does the station look like?
According to NASA, the station is visible to the naked eye and looks like a, "fast-moving plane only much higher and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster."
With that said, it is the third brightest object in the sky, which makes spotting it less difficult. Like the moon, the space station is visible because it reflects the light of the Sun. And, naturally, viewing opportunities are best on clear nights.
The football field-sized space station serves as a testbed for technologies and supports NASA’s mission to push human presence father into space. Learn more about station updates and research here.
Happy viewing, Vancouver!