I recently started following @Twisst on Twitter as they provide a wonderful little service. They take your location based on the description in Twitter (eg Ipswich, UK) and give you alerts when the ISS is going to be visible from your location similar to this one:
ISS will be visible passing at your location -weather permitting- on
June 17, 2011, 21:34:40 BST
Is it a good one?
This time, the International Space Station will be flying over at 36 degrees. Its magnitude will be -2.9: extremely bright!
Where to look?
ISS will come up in southwest and will be heading for the east.
Your Twitter bio says you are here: “Ipswich, UK”, which Twisst thinks is at these coordinates: 52.057777, 1.143788. More info: Twisst and locations.
The next pass of ISS after this one: June 17, 2011, 23:09:53 BST
It was @DrLucyRogers who retweeted something from them that made me notice them and it’s useful to cross reference with the Lizard-tails GoogleSatTrack website (thanks to Closov for that handy link) so you get a real time update of the location of the ISS around the time its due overhead.
Obviously the ‘weather permitting’ part is kind of important as the night of the lunar eclipse (which was the first night I started using this) was full of bloody cloud. Last night however was full of stars and I was luck enough to spot the alert about the ISS saying it was going to be overhead at 86 degrees just after midnight. I got my camera and telescope outside (shouldn’t have bothered with that) and faffed around for ages just looking up and waiting… waiting… more waiting… The time had said 12:14 but the time came and went without a single sign and I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for as I haven’t seen the ISS before (noob) and as i can’t get wifi in the garden I couldn’t check the GoogleSatTrack. As I was started to grow a little disheartened it appeared and bugger me does that thing move fast. I managed to snap a couple of pics with the camera with before it vanished and it flew an almost perfect east to west above the garden. I took all of the following photos around 12:30am on the morning of 17th June.
I also had a muck about with the camera while waiting and played with the shutter and ISO speed then adjusted the brightness/levels in photoshop after.
Sadly its raining today and I just got soaked on the ride home so I’m guessing its a ‘weather permitting’ situation here.