If you see what looks like a very bright star moving across the sky over Newcastle, it could be the International Space Station.
For the next fortnight, the International Space Station should be visible in the night sky over Newcastle if the weather remains clear and cloudless. This is a wonderful opportunity for kids interested in space (like my own child) to spot the station.
Orbitting at 400 kilometres above the earth, the International Space Station station is an active scientific laboratory orbiting the earth and is currently conducting musculoskeletal and chemistry research.
Last month at Mom 2.0 Summit, I had the opportunity to hear Cady Coleman, a female astronaut from NASA discuss how she balanced work and family when she was aboard the International Space Centre for 159 days in 2010. She explained that using Skype, she would supervise her then 10-year old son doing his homework and read books together.
Currently, the International Space Centre is home to two Americans (Timothy Kopra and Jeff Williams), a Brit (Timothy Peake) and three Russians (Alexey Ovchinin, Oleg Skripochka and Yuri Malenchenko).
Here’s some information about when you will be able to locate the International Space Station in the morning and night sky for the next fortnight.
On the NASA website, there is an online tool which indicates when and where the ISS will be visible. It even gives you directions on how to spot it in the night sky.
According to NASA, the station “ looks like an airplane or a very bright star moving across the sky, except it doesn’t have flashing lights or change direction. It will also be moving considerably faster than a typical airplane (airplanes generally fly at about 600 miles per hour; the space station flies at 17,500 miles per hour)”.
The Space Station is typically visible around sunrise or sunset, because the sun reflects off the space centre and can be seen against a darker sky. Sightings are limited to only a few minutes.
If you miss the ISS this week, you can sign up for reminders as to when it will be back again.