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Can you see a laser pointer from the space station?

steve001

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Benm

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I think that experiment is fairly old by now, but yes they could see your laser, provided you had a means to actually point it at the ISS.

An interesting experiment would be to do the opposite: take a laser pointer up there and try to shine it down onto a fixed point on the ground so people could see it.

It is perfectly possible to see the ISS by naked eye as it is under certain conditions, but those have to be somewhat near dusk or dawn, the middle of the night would not really be possible, at least not in winter. I curious what it would look like from a city for example - would you still see it with all the light pollution etc?
 

paul1598419

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Yeah, I have known about the 1 watt 445nm laser pointed at the space station and seen from space. There was another thread about this sometime ago, so it is really old news....to me. But, there are likely many people who may not have known about this.
 

steve001

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I think that experiment is fairly old by now, but yes they could see your laser, provided you had a means to actually point it at the ISS.

An interesting experiment would be to do the opposite: take a laser pointer up there and try to shine it down onto a fixed point on the ground so people could see it.

It is perfectly possible to see the ISS by naked eye as it is under certain conditions, but those have to be somewhat near dusk or dawn, the middle of the night would not really be possible, at least not in winter. I curious what it would look like from a city for example - would you still see it with all the light pollution etc?
I've seen it
 

steve001

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Yeah, I have known about the 1 watt 445nm laser pointed at the space station and seen from space. There was another thread about this sometime ago, so it is really old news....to me. But, there are likely many people who may not have known about this.
It is old news for us old timers. But there's them virgin hobbyists to consider.
 

paul1598419

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The 1 watt laser used to aim as the ISS was beam expanded and on a tripod that tracked the station perfectly. To do the same thing from the ISS to the ground would be much more dificult as it would likely not be expanded nor would it be aimed at a patch of ground 100 meters across. What exactly did you see, Steve?
 

steve001

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The 1 watt laser used to aim as the ISS was beam expanded and on a tripod that tracked the station perfectly. To do the same thing from the ISS to the ground would be much more dificult as it would likely not be expanded nor would it be aimed at a patch of ground 100 meters across. What exactly did you see, Steve?
It looked like any other satellite one would see except is was a bit brighter and bigger.
 

GSS

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I think that experiment is fairly old by now, but yes they could see your laser, provided you had a means to actually point it at the ISS.

An interesting experiment would be to do the opposite: take a laser pointer up there and try to shine it down onto a fixed point on the ground so people could see it.

It is perfectly possible to see the ISS by naked eye as it is under certain conditions, but those have to be somewhat near dusk or dawn, the middle of the night would not really be possible, at least not in winter. I curious what it would look like from a city for example - would you still see it with all the light pollution etc?
Yup I saw ISS fly by a few years ago when diachi posted the ISS tracking and sighting link schedule.
Was early morning and perfect sighting conditions. I'm in the city but at this city's highest point. It also had a 3 1/2 minute viewing window time.
It looked just like a airplane fuselage with no wings and for a split second I thought it was a plane. This was with the naked eye and no binoculars. The fly by was surprisingly quick.
 

RedCowboy

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When I go out to my sisters property I can see satellites at night, they do pass by fast compared to high altitude aircraft and they stay on a very straight path ( duh, I know ) but that's what stands out when scanning the skies.
 

CurtisOliver

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Yep, I remember the experiment.
As for seeing the ISS, it's is one of the easiest satellites to spot IMO if you live with some light pollution. It is just a steady white dot moving through the sky. I've seen it many times now.

 

GSS

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I still don't know what I saw one early dark morning which I thought was the ISS at the time.
Didn't know also at the time that that the ISS wouldn't be basicly motionless.
This was just some type of object that looked like a "chunk" of light that was motionless that i'm certain was outside of are atmosphere but not by much like "I" would think a communication satellite would be but I know now they move quickly.
Not thinking silly UFO stuff:rolleyes: but what man made structure would be in still orbit?
 

paul1598419

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To be still in the sky, the satellite would have to be in geosynchronous orbit. There are many of these, but they aren't very large to my knowledge. Steve, when you posted Benm's post and replied "I saw it", I couldn't be sure what you meant by that. Since he had said it would be interesting to see if a laser could be seen from the ISS, I mistakenly assumed that is what you meant.
 

GSS

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Thanks Paul for an idea of what type of satellite it probably was. It was up there that's for sure.
I was actually at the 7 - 11 store at the time and a couple people I pointed it out to didn't even seem to care which stuck me as weird as it was a blob off light in the sky??:whistle:
I didn't babble UFO conspiracy's like a nut job and even mentioned it could a satellite or the ISS.
Even later on when I did see the scheduled ISS fly by I showed it to a woman outside my building and she had no clue what the ISS was or is??
 

paul1598419

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Yes, there are many clueless people walking around these days. The lack of curiosity is concerning to me. But, what ya gonna do?
 

Benm

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The 1 watt laser used to aim as the ISS was beam expanded and on a tripod that tracked the station perfectly. To do the same thing from the ISS to the ground would be much more dificult as it would likely not be expanded nor would it be aimed at a patch of ground 100 meters across. What exactly did you see, Steve?
As i understand the story they had the blue laser mounted on an automated tracking system such that it would point at the ISS indeed - and the idea was to use searchlights to point at the ISS to find out if they were able to be seen. The laser just guided them to the exact point in the sky to point these searchlights, but was apparently so well aimed and collimated that it could be seen itself from the space station with the naked eye.

As for shining a laser from the ISS to earth, i reckon they have a very reliable guidance system in place that keeps the entire station in a specific orientation to the earth surface, so that would not really be a problem. The laser used in the experiment was not that big or heavy and could be taken with a mission. Maybe it would be nice to say 'hi from the ISS' to a couple of cities on planned date as a publicity thing.

Seeing satellites from an urban area is actually not that easy. The ISS is doable at certain times of year when you know where to look. Iridium flares were also predictable and bright enough to easily see, but the newer generation of Iridium sats have a different antenna design that does not produce noticeable flares - and the last of the old generation are going out of service soon.
 




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