From tonight (Thursday), the International Space Station will be visible in the skies over Ireland and Britain and every evening until October 16th.
At 9.23pm and again at 10.57pm the ISS will blaze across Irish skies from west to east. Clearing skies over Ireland should present good viewing opportunities.
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.
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.
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 or below.
Photos of Ireland taken from the ISS (below):