If you missed Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve, you may have the chance to set eyes on the International Space Station before the year is out.
The near 420,000kg craft with a crew of up to six people has been in constant orbit since 1998 and takes just over 90 minutes to complete a revolution of the Earth.
Otherwise known as the ISS, anyone looking out for the station in the skies over Cheshire should keep an eye out for something which looks like a (very) fast-moving aircraft.
It’s easy to distinguish the ISS from any aeroplane which may be in the sky at the same time as it is much further away and moves far, far quicker than any conventional craft.
To compare, the flights we take on holiday travel at around 600 miles per hour. The space station moves at 17,500 miles per hour.
Times provided by NASA’s ISS website reveal two small windows of opportunity to see the station in the skies above Cheshire this week.
Friday, December 30, 7.36am:
The space station should be visible for two minutes . If you need the technical information, it’s:
Maximum height : 20⁰ (this is the elevation it will appear at, if you take the horizon as 0⁰ and directly above you as 90⁰)
Appears : 11⁰ above South South West (this, again, is in relation to the horizon as 0⁰ and where you should look in relation to the compass to spot the station first).
Disappears : 20⁰ above South South East.
If you’re still not sure about how to measure degrees from the horizon, the ISS website offers the following advice: “If you hold your fist at arm’s length and place your fist resting on the horizon, the top [of your fist] will be about 10 degrees.”
With that in mind, here’s the details for the second time you can glimpse ISS this week.
Saturday, December 31, 6.45am:
The station will be visible for just one minute on this occasion.
Its maximum height is 20⁰.
Appears : 10⁰ above South.
Disappears : 14⁰ above South South East.
If you need any further information, visit NASA’s own ISS website.
We’d love to see any pictures you take of the ISS as it passes over Cheshire.
Share them with us at email@example.com