The International Space Station (ISS) has recently grown so large–with solar panels covering an area as large as a football field–that it shines far brighter than the brightest star and rivals Venus as the brightest nighttime sky object, aside from our Moon. Reports say that it is sometimes visible during the day as well.
Star gazers have long since grown accustomed to seeing satellites gliding slowly across the sky on almost any night. They are dim and hard to spot but their steady movement gives them away to the careful watcher. Kids are especially good at spotting them.
The ISS, in this regard, is something new. Rather than being hard to spot it is almost impossible to miss. Look up when it is crossing a clear sky after dusk and you’ll see it. Most viewers will mistake it for a passing jetliner with its lights on, but the ISS flies about one hundred and eighty miles higher than a passenger jet and at around seventeen thousand miles per hour many times faster.
Video by Darin Boville