Yes, you can see the International Space Station without a telescope as it passes overhead.
Seeing with Naked Eye:
Some people think that it can’t be seen with the naked eye, but it is not true. It can be seen with the naked eye without any equipment at the right time and place because it is brighter than Venus. The tricky part is following it. The reason that it can be seen from the Earth is that like the moon, and it also reflects the light from the Sun. But we can only see it during night time.
It is said by NASA that unlike the moon, it is not visible during the daytime. So, it preferred to see it at night. A famous astronomy blogger Dave Samuhel said that it could be seen from Urban areas as well as it is brighter than many planets including Venus.
It can be seen from your location by using many apps which notify you when ISS will be passing over your location and will be visible. There is also an official NASA website for this purpose named as NASA’s Spot the Station website. In some parts of the world, it is visible for more than five minutes brightly whereas, in other parts, it is visible for a very short time.
It looks like a fast-moving plane in the sky but much brighter and far away than a plane. Equipment: You don’t necessarily need a telescope to see a space station. But if you have one, then you can also see it more clearly. A telescope is an instrument which is used to magnify the image of far placed objects by using lenses and mirrors.
Seeing with a Telescope:
You can see a space station when it passes from around the Sun or the Moon. But it will require a lot of planning and plotting for this. Also, you will have to be precise with your timing because it transits by the Moon and the Sun nanoseconds. You need to be good with physical tracking, i.e. good with moving your telescope by hands.
It requires a lot of practice, time and works actually to see a space station with a telescope. Photographing Space Station: With the help of a telescope, you can also take pictures of a space station.
A famous space station includes International Space Station which is in low Earth orbit. It is also called an artificial satellite. It is the largest human-made body launched in the space. It was launched in 1998. It is used as a research laboratory where members perform experiments related to physics, astronomy, meteorology, and other fields. It travels 250 miles above the Earth’s surface at a speed of 17,500 miles/hr.
But it will require improving your knowledge of the telescope and some common sense. You will have to do it all very quickly as space station move extremely fast in the sky. You will need a DSLR camera in video mode for this purpose. Sometimes you find space stations that are not even supposed to be there. That can only happen with a telescope.
Some people have reported that they found a space station while photographing the Sun. Note: Before seeing space station transiting around the Sun with a telescope, it is necessary to take some safety precautions as it is dangerous to look at the sunlight directly. It can cause permanent or temporary eye damage.