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NASA SkyWatch Quick Start GuideIf conditions are right, you can see satellites and other spacecraft -- such as the space shuttle or the International Space Station -- clearly from the ground. Satellites appear as small, steady, extremely fast-moving points of light. The International Space Station is now one of the most visible objects in the sky. Most sightings follow a west-to-east path and the spacecraft appear over the western horizon and disappear over the eastern in a matter of a few minutes.
The problem for most people is that they do not know when or where to look to see the station or other spacecraft in the night sky. NASA SkyWatch is a tool for you to get this information. This guide is intended to help you run NASA SkyWatch the first time or two you try.
Generally, NASA SkyWatch can be as simple or as complex as you care to make it. For astronomy enthusiasts, there are many variables that allow you to personalize the processing of Earth orbiting satellites. For everyone else, there are only a few things to remember in order to get highly accurate sighting information. This guide will help you to master the basics of obtaining some great sighting data!
Step 1: First of all, remember that you need to be using a compatible internet browser. The Microsoft Internet Explorer v.4.0 or later or Netscape Navigator v.4.06 or later are recommended for the Windows operating system. The Java Runtime Environment v.1.4.2 is also required.
For the Macintosh operating system, the Microsoft Internet Explorer v.4.5 and the Macintosh Runtime Environment for Java v.2.1 are recommended. If you have access to these browsers, then you are ready to proceed to step 2. If you do not have access to these browsers, then you will receive security errors and the applet will not appear.
Step 2: Once the browser configuration is sorted out, you are ready to go. NASA SkyWatch can be viewed from the Human Spaceflight Web under Realtime Data and Sightings. To obtain best results, make sure your computer system clock is set to your correct local time. If all is well, all you need to do is to click on the "Start Java Applet" button on the introduction page and the applet will be displayed. Once the user interface is displayed, you are ready for step three.
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