To add to Pat's suggestions ....
John Papas - K8YSE - records many of the passes and posts the recordings here ==> http://www.papays.com/sat/general.html
Another great site for "just getting started" ==> http://web.me.com/clintbradford/Work-Sat/Home.html Clint has a 4 page PDF file with a nice chart on what frequencies to program into your HT to account for the Doppler shifts during the pass.
Early morning passes -- 5:00am- 7:00am are much, much less crowded than the ones later in the day when everyone is awake :-)
SO-50 is "calmer" than AO-51.
AO-51 now requires a 67Hz PL tone (added this week ) The satellite is experiencing longer periods of eclipse - and the batteries are weak -- so the power management software may turn off the FM repeater. The control stations respond as quickly as possible and turn it back on. If you can't hear it -- it may not be you !
A good place to check for "real time" satellite status ==> http://oscar.dcarr.org/index.php
As Pat suggested -- check the AMSAT satellite status page ==> http://web.me.com/clintbradford/Work-Sat/Home.html
HOPE-1 aka HO-68 - you can hear the CW beacon -- but the FM repeater is down .. I have not heard the ISS FM repeater on lately -- but the APRS digipeater is usually on 145.825
try pushing some packets up to the ISS and then check this site after the pass ==> http://www.ariss.net/
It really is lot's of fun ---