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The International Space Station flies across Ireland tonight

Want to see the most expensive object ever built?

The International Space Station is seen orbiting the earth over Woolton in Liverpool, Merseyside.
The International Space Station is seen orbiting the earth over Woolton in Liverpool, Merseyside.
Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images

IT TOOK THE United States, Japan, Russia, Canada and the European Space Agency almost 20 years and more than €100 billion to build and it’s coming to our skies.

The International Space Station is due to cross Ireland tonight – and every other night for the rest of February. It will be visible in the evening sky at about 7.22pm today.

The largest spacecraft ever to be put into orbit, the ISS is about the size of Croke Park. As its massive solar panels reflect sunlight, it will appear extremely bright when seen from Earth.

“It will look like the brightest star in the sky,” Chairman of Astronomy Ireland David Moore told TheJournal.ie.

Unfortunately it will be moving too fast – 5 miles per second - for the naked eye to catch much other detail. It orbits Earth about 350km above the planet’s surface.

Special computerised telescopes and software are now available to allow keen watchers track it smoothly across the sky. With the right equipment, people can see the sonar panels, said Moore.

“One amateur astronomer in Holland even managed to film an astronaut on the craft with his equipment. In the old days only US military could do things like that,” he said.

If you would like to join other space enthusiasts tonight, Astronomy Ireland is holding a beginners class in the Fitzgerald Building in Trinity College from 7.15pm.

And here’s a handy tip from TheJournal.ie reader EM:

Go to the site below, pick the town closest to you and it will give you details of the passes over the coming days:
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/cities/skywatch.cgi?country=Ireland

Basically, look S/SW at the appointed time and you should see it crossing the sky. If the elevation is low such as tonight it will be close to the horizon and may be hard to see. It’s nice & high in the sky on Sat and Mon – Fri next.

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