From tomorrow (Friday) night, the International Space Station will be visible in the skies over Ireland and Britain every evening until October 27th.
At 8:11pm tomorrow, the ISS will blaze across Irish skies from west to east.
The ISS will be the brightest object in the sky as it passes over Ireland, outshining even the brightest star in the sky by a factor of 10 to 100 times. On board the most expensive object ever built are 6 astronauts, 5 men and 1 woman.
“ISS is an amazing sight when it appears in evening skies. Even those out walking their dog have called us the next day to ask what that bright light was in the sky?” said David Moore, Chairman of Astronomy Ireland, who has been predicting when manned spaceships are visible in Irish skies since the 1980’s.
The ISS is the biggest man-made object in space. At over 400 tonnes, and bigger than a football pitch, it took dozens of space shuttle missions over a decade to assemble mankind’s first outpost in space.
“ISS is extremely important to manned space exploration. It will surely go down in history in much the same way as school children now learn the names of Columbus’ three ships that set sail for the Americas” said David Moore.
“We are urging everyone in Ireland to get the whole family out every evening to watch space history in the making, and report to Astronomy Ireland what they see. The best reports will be included in a special article in our magazine that will be archived for posterity in the National Library of Ireland” he said.
As you watch, remember ISS is travelling at 17,000miles(28,000km) per hour and it is 260miles (415km) above the ground. It orbits the Earth every 90minutes meaning that it goes round the Earth 16 times a day. The giant solar panels are wider than the wingspan of a jumbo jet. It is this huge size that gives ISS its spectacular brightness.
The first module was launched in 1998 and the space station has been manned continuously since 2000, usually by crews of 6 astronauts who do tours of duty 6 months long.
ISS is a effectively a huge laboratory in space carrying out experiments that can only be done in weightlessness, for example developing new drugs and exotic high technology materials. The astronauts also monitor the effects of long term weightlessness on their bodies which will be important for the upcoming manned missions to Mars.
The times of when the ISS will pass over Ireland can be found online for free at N2YO.
Photos of Ireland taken from the ISS (below):