While we go about our daily lives in the Grand Valley, the International Space Station (ISS) is continually orbiting the earth, and you can actually see it pass over Grand Junction.

Spotting the ISS isn't extremely difficult- if you know when and where to look.

The ISS is fairly large - at least compared to a car. It's about the size of a football field, so it is significantly larger than a jet airliner. However, its orbit is 240 miles above the earth's surface. To put it in perspective, that's about how far it is from Grand Junction to Denver.

To be able to spot something the size of a football field at that distance seems impossible, but it's not. Thanks to the reflection of the sun on the ISS, we are able to see it traveling across the sky with the naked eye.

However, the ISS is traveling at over 17,000 MPH - that's about 5 miles per second. It doesn't stay visible for very long. Knowing when and where to look is essential.

Tuesday, February 14th is going to provide optimal viewing conditions for seeing the space station. While it quite often travels between 10 and 20 degrees above the horizon, on this day the ISS will be high in the sky at 66 degrees. Because it is so high, you will actually be able to watch it for about five minutes, compared to one or two minutes of viewing when it is lower on the horizon.

International Space Station

To spot the International Space Station on February 14th in Grand Junction, look to the northwest at 6:46 PM. The ISS will first appear about 10 degrees above the horizon. If you hold your arm straight out and put the bottom of your fist on the horizon, the top of your fist is going to be about 10 degrees.

The ISS will be traveling west to east and you will see it climbing higher in the sky. Finally, it will begin to descend in the east/southeast sky and it will vanish from your view at about 19 degrees. It will look like a plane, but is much higher and moving much faster.

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