Can you see satellites? (Beginner)

Can you see satellites with the naked eye from Northeast OH?

Sure. Satellites reflect the light of the sun, allowing them to be seen from the ground. The best way to find them is by going outside on a dark night and stand (or sit!) facing south (or north, if you live in the southern hemisphere). (This is because most satellites orbit the equator of the Earth) A satellite will appear as a "star" moving slowly across the sky, usually from east to west or west to east.

Unlike meteors, satellites are slow-moving and yellow (not red-orange) due to the sun's reflected light.

The International Space Station can be particularly impressive to see. To know when and where to look for it, you can use some of the on-line resources like Heavens above.

There are a few satellites that orbit in a north-south direction. Those are the spy satellites. If you see one, be sure to wave!

This page was last updated on July 18, 2015.

About the Author

Dave Kornreich

Dave was the founder of Ask an Astronomer. He got his PhD from Cornell in 2001 and is now an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Physical Science at Humboldt State University in California. There he runs his own version of Ask the Astronomer. He also helps us out with the odd cosmology question.

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