Space fever is gripping the nation today (Tuesday December 15) with the opportunity for Cestrians to gaze up at the International Space Station (ISS) just minutes before the arrival of the Soyuz rocket carrying British astronaut Tim Peake.
NASA’s Spot The Station web service shows that, clear skies permitting, people in Chester should be able to see the ISS at 5.14pm today, about 10 minutes before the Russian craft carrying Major Peake along with American Tim Kopra and Russian Yuri Malenchenko docks with the station at 17.23 GMT.
Anyone across the globe can input their location to work out what time and where to look in the sky.
As the third brightest object in the heavens, NASA claims the space station is easy to see if you know when to look up. The American space agency says the ISS will be visible in Chester for four minutes from 5.14pm and again for one minute only at 6.50pm.
BBC science correspondent Rebecca Morelle wrote online: “If you are in the UK - weather permitting - you might able to pop outside and get a glimpse with your very own eyes!
“At 17:14 GMT, the ISS will be visible in the evening sky for about three minutes. It looks like a very bright fast-moving plane, but it will appear as a steady - not blinking - white burst of light.”
This morning, Major Peake waved goodbye to his family before the Soyuz rocket blasted off into space from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 11.03am.
An ex-helicopter pilot, he is the first official UK astronaut. Previous ‘British’ astronauts have either had US citizenship and worked for Nasa or been privately funded.
During his six months' mission, he will conduct experiments aboard the ISS as well as carrying out educational activities designed to get young people interested in science.
The International Space Station has been in continuous operation for 15 years and requires regular maintenance. Currently the only way to make external repairs is on a spacewalk – a task Tim has been training for since 2012 and is really excited about potentially performing.