ISS Detector for Android: Daily App Pick

BreakingModern — Today’s app pick is going to satisfy the space nerd in all of us. I’m all about looking up, and this cool app will let you know when it’s possible to see the International Space Station in space. It’s called ISS Detector, and it does this by using all sorts of cool, publicly available data. If it knows your location and, based on that, your weather, it can tell you when to go outside and look up to see the ISS racing across the night sky.

I remember the first time I saw the ISS, I was like WHOA. It was larger than I would have expected, and hauling some serious tail, streaking across the night sky like it was in a hurry to get somewhere. It’s definitely much more noticeable than the normal satellites you might see on a clear night, assuming you can get away from the light pollution.


ISS Detector App — More than an Alert

ISS Detector does more than just alert you to the ISS. If you just use the free version, you can also get notified about Iridium Flares. What the hell are those, you might ask? You know, those things that look like stars but are moving across the night sky? Yeah, most of them are satellites, but many of them are more specifically known as iridium communication satellites. Basically, these things are reflective, and every now and again the sun hits one just right and bounces the light into your eye, looking something like this.

Flare Simulation

The real fun is when you purchase the in-app extensions, which turns ISS Detector into an app that alerts you when any other awesome thing hurtles by in the sky. You can purchase all the extensions and remove the ads for $2.75, or you can buy individual extensions.


Currently ISS Detector offers a comets and planets extension, an amateur radio satellite extension and a famous objects extension. Each one is $1.40 and will notify you about various objects in the sky. Any of them will also remove the ads, which can be quite annoying sometimes. As with all cool apps, it’s best practice to support the developer and purchase the app. This one I highly recommend, especially if you are a fan of cool night-time viewing.

The comets and planets extension allows you to detect comets, view planets on the radar and enter night mode. As you probably already guessed, the amateur radio extension allows you to detect Ham radio satellites, weather satellites and enter night mode. ISS Detector is using data from NASA,,, and weather data from

The famous objects extension shows you things like X-37B (Boeing’s orbital test vehicle), Tiangong 1 (Chinese space station) and other bright objects we have orbiting our pale blue dot. Each extension allows you to enable real time notifications, which are what got me hooked on the ISS Detector app in the first place.


Before this, I would never remember to go outside and look up when the space station was overhead and not just because I live somewhere that’s usually cloudy. This is Big Sky country, after all. It’s just not something I think about on the day to day, but with this app I don’t have to remember. I just run outside and see — and I’m always grateful I did. I think you’ll really dig it the first time it works. You just go outside and see this thing cruising by like a comet. It’s so awesome.


You can tap the calendar icon to add the next sighting of your choice into your calendar, thus making sure you doubly don’t forget. Personally, I find that a little overkill, unless you are planning a star-viewing party or something and want to add friends to the calendar event. In that case it’s quite helpful.


Download ISS Detector for Android on Google Play, and here on the Amazon Appstore. Check out ISS Detector Pro, the full ad-free version, here, or visit them on the web. It’s well worth it.

For BMod, I’m

Video credit: Icycomputer at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

All screenshots: Mat Lee

Mat Lee

Author: Mat Lee

Based in Kalispell, MT, Mat Lee is a senior contributor at He writes hip hop, makes podcasts, and dabbles in gaming in his spare time. Follow Mat Lee on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.

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