News – Early on Saturday morning? Look up to see the Space Station!


OUT OF THIS WORLD | Earth, space, and everything in between – a daily journey through time, space, and science with meteorologist / science writer Scott Sutherland

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist / Science Writer

Friday, November 9, 2018, 5:46 a.m. – Hey, south of Ontario! If you wake up early on a Saturday morning, turn your eyes to the sky, for one of the best chances to see the International Space Station fly overhead!

There are many cool things to see in the sky before dawn – planets, stars, comets, meteor showers and even the Milky Way – but there is something to be said about looking up and seeing
something we put there!

For early morning viewers in southern Ontario on Saturday, November 10, it's a great time to experience this because the International Space Station is making an overpass.

They will appear on the northwest horizon around 6:07 ET, will be visible for between four and six minutes, depending on where you are, when they are over, and then disappear beyond the southeast horizon.


The International Space Station has a very different shape. The astronauts who visit the station can see it in all its glory.

The International Space Station, seen from the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2010. Credit: NASA

If seen through a telescope, observers often compare it to a Star Wars TIE Fighter.

When looking at it passing over during one of these flyovers without the use of a telescope, however, the station will simply appear as a small and bright circle of light, moving at a steady pace in the sky, as shown in the animation below .

This animation shows how the Space Station looks like from the ground to the naked eye. The animation accelerates by about two or three times the normal, and the brightness reflects the conditions under a clear and dark sky, away from sources of light pollution. Credit: Stellarium / Scott Sutherland


This Space Station Viaduct will be centered over Georgian Bay, Peterborough and Trenton. Then, in these places, it will pass directly above, and will be brighter.

The ISS road, November 10, 2018, from 6:09 am to 6:15 am ET, as it passes over southern Ontario. The red arc is the way of the ISS. The green line and the blue arcs observe the field of view of the cameras live on the ISS. Credit:

The station will be visible, however, for hundreds of miles on either side of that line.

For anyone observing from the west or southwest of the red line drawn in the animation above, the station will still appear in the northwest and will disappear to the southeast, but will draw a curve along the northeast part of the sky, and the further observer is from the line, the northeast the curve will be inclined. On the other hand, for anyone located east or northeast of the line, an observer will see the station draw a curve to the southwest.

The dash of the Space Station, as shown in the ISS Detector application, for Android. Credit: ISS Detector / Scott Sutherland

The reason why the above examples only explain Windsor, Toronto and Belleville, however, is due to the biggest factor that will determine whether an observer sees the station on Saturday morning – time.


As with any star-observing or star-observing event, cloud cover is probably the most important factor we need to take into account.

On Friday afternoon, the cloud forecast for early Saturday morning shows that a clear spot will develop after the active weather on Friday in parts of southwest Ontario, the Toronto metropolitan area, and the north of Ontario.

The exact positions of the clouds can evolve during the night, however, as this weather system progresses to the east. So, check your local forecast before going out to ensure you really have clear skies!

Want to see what the ISS sees as it passes through Ontario? Check out the live views of the space station's cameras at
NASA site.

NASA | |

Image teaser of space station viaduct with ESA's ATV-5 cargo spacecraft is courtesy of Julien Harrod, with the
European Space Agency. Several individual images were stacked to produce this final image, showing the station and the freighter at various points along its paths, all at once. Thus, they appear as long streaks, rather than just points of light between the stars.


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