The fact that this URL exists means that we live in an extraordinary time. People, not so different from us (besides their packed resumes), are above. Not only in the occasional jet liner that pencils the highways we humans have set up in the sky, but farther up. Three, sometimes six people cresting above our atmosphere for a time. They live on a colossal spaceship roughly the size of a football field, spending their days eating, sleeping, performing scientific experiments, and, perhaps most importantly, gazing out the window. Lucky for the rest of us, they often have a camera in hand.
In another lucky break for us, it turns out that through some serious engineering wizardry, the internet exists in space, providing a way for the astronauts to interact with those of us still physically below, but mentally yearning to be above it all. Videos of experiments, music, and everyday life turned weird by the apparent lack of falling allow us to glimpse this odd experience. Pictures of the Earth from space come down all day everyday in the form of a live stream and astronauts constantly Instagram, Tweet, and Facebook their lives back to the ground, giving followers the chance to glimpse new views of their home planet from 200 miles up on a daily basis or watch along with the astronauts as they encounter 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets per day.
The International Space Station is big, as I’ve mentioned, and it turns out to be one of the brightest objects in the sky. Easy to spot and moving fast (17,000 miles per hour), the station makes for a great excuse to go outside and gaze up at a small bright dot pacing across the sky. That dot has people on it, space people, and that makes that it possibly more amazing than any of the other dots it is moving past up there. Those dots are other Suns, which is pretty incredible competition. When should you go out to look for that dot? App’s can tell you and so can websites. For Android, ISS Satellite Tracker works well for me, it has options to configure alerts and a helpful interface to figure out where to look. For iOS ISS Spotter seems to be a solid choice.
A small amount of your tax dollars are going towards keeping people alive in space. You may as well follow along.