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Can we see satellites from Earth with naked eyes or Telescope?

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Satellites are launched into space to undertake different tasks. There could be weather satellites, communication satellites, or spy satellites, but one thing they all have in common is that scientists used them to help people on earth. These days scientists are trying to find out if there is a way we can use satellites from earth to help us too.  A lot of people were wondering if they can see satellites from the earth.

For most people, it’s hard to believe that you can actually see satellites from the ground. Satellites orbiting around the earth can be seen only with the help of telescopes or binoculars.  In fact, it’s extremely hard to see satellites from earth even if you have a good pair of eyes and know exactly where you’re looking.

Let’s deep dive into it. Stay tuned!

Can you see satellites from earth?

Can you see satellites from earth? There are many different objects in space like stars, planets, and comets. On occasion can be seen with the naked eye but not without equipment.  Satellites orbiting the Earth are visible only when illuminated by the Sun and viewed at night.  They look like moving points of light that can be seen as they pass overhead.  In fact, their motion is so swift that it can sometimes be difficult to see them with the naked eye at all.

Some people have been able to see these moving objects from the earth through a telescope or binoculars and know that there are satellites orbiting around the Earth. The faster the satellite orbits around the Earth, the shorter its orbital period.  The most common type of orbit for satellites is called a Low Earth Orbit or LEO.  At this height, it takes about 90 minutes to make one complete orbit around the earth.

Why are they hard to see?

There are several reasons why these orbiting objects are difficult to see from the earth.

First, the satellites are very dim and they have a maximum altitude of only 1,243 miles above the Earth’s surface. This means that sunlight only illuminates them a few degrees above the horizon making them extremely hard to spot with the naked eye.   Because of this fact, most satellites appear during the evening and early morning hours.  Also, they cannot be seen in locations where the sun is shining brightly even if the object is visible to the naked eye.

Secondly, most satellites are not very bright at all due to their size and distance from Earth.  They only reflect light back to Earth making them appear like dim stars.  Most first-generation satellites emitted only about 4-5 watts of energy, which is why it’s very hard to see them surrounding the earth.

Can we see satellites from Earth with naked eyes?

To answer can you see satellites with your naked eyes, we learned that it is very hard to spot these orbiting objects because of their size, the speed at which they travel, and outside interference such as sunlight. Theoretically, it’s possible but not with your bare eyes only through the help of telescopes and binoculars.

Satellites orbiting around the earth can be seen only with the help of telescopes or binoculars.  In fact, it’s extremely hard to see satellites from earth even if you have a good pair of eyes and know exactly where you’re looking.

The best bet for spotting these objects is to go outside an hour after sunset and look in the direction of where the satellite is supposed to be passing.  You’ll have better luck if you go outside at least an hour or two before sunrise when it would be easier to spot satellites that are orbiting around the Earth.  Also, try looking for visible passes when you’re in a location without too much light pollution.

Can satellites see through clouds?

Satellites can see through clouds. There is a lot of high-tech equipment much more advanced than the naked eye that allows them to see through anything, including clouds or dust storms.

By using visible light or infrared (IR) imagery of the earth’s surface, scientists are able to monitor weather conditions like atmospheric temperature and moisture.  Satellites are also able to monitor certain climatic changes like El Niño and La Niña through their imagery.

Can we see satellites at night?

Yes, it is possible to see satellites at night.  However, because most of these orbiting objects are dim and you won’t be able to see them if the sun is shining on earth.

A satellite can be seen when illuminated by the Sun or another nearby object while in space or while passing through Earth’s atmosphere. There are visible light satellites, which are visible with the naked eye, and infrared satellites that can only be seen through special equipment.

The reasons why it is difficult to see satellites orbiting the Earth are because they are dim, usually between 4-5 watts of energy or even less depending on its generation. Also, they are not very high in altitude (1,243 miles) and they cannot be seen in locations where the sun is shining brightly.

Can we see satellites from Earth

How to Spot Satellites

To be able to see any satellites orbiting the Earth, you will need to use a telescope or binoculars. It is not advisable to attempt spotting satellites with your naked eyes because it’s extremely hard without them.

Also, these objects are dim and they emit just 4-5 watts of energy, which means that you’ll probably have a hard time spotting them if you’re looking directly at the sun.

Can you see the ISS with a telescope?

The International Space Station (ISS) can be seen from the earth using a good pair of binoculars or a telescope because it is not usually dim. However, you will need certain conditions in order to see it after dark and the chances of spotting the ISS within one night are not very high.


In conclusion, it is possible to see satellites orbiting the Earth but you will need a telescope or binoculars.  If you want to spot these objects, wait for an ideal condition during dawn or dusk when the sun isn’t too bright.


How can you tell if it's a satellite?

The easiest way to tell if a light in the sky is a satellite or something else is to check whether it moves with respect to the stars. Stars, planets, and the moon all appear as pinpoints of light because they are so far away, while satellites can often be seen moving through your field of view.

How does a satellite look like from Earth?

A satellite can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all look bright from the Earth because they are reflecting sunlight back to us.

Can satellites be seen from Mars or any other planets?

Satellites can only be seen from earth because they are orbiting around it.  It is impossible to see them from any other planet or moon in the solar system since there are no orbiting satellites.  Only the Earth has multiple orbiting objects because it is the only known planet in our solar system with life on it.

Can you see stars through satellite?

Stars can be seen through satellites, but this depends on your location, time of day, and other factors such as sunlight. Just like any object that emits its own light, stars can be seen through other objects such as satellites.

What is the speed of satellite?

Satellites travel at an average speed of 7,700 mph (12,317 km/h).  This means that it takes about 90 minutes for a satellite to orbit around the earth and return to its original position.


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Rayhan Sarwar

I am a glass and ceramic engineering student at the Rajshahi University of Engineering & Technology (RUET). I enjoy exploring science and technology, which is why I chose to study engineering!

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