Stars on 45

Stars on 45

Another post in our “not strictly lunch hour” series, a chance to see with the naked eye, a lump of tin (The International Space Station) hurtling around the Earth at 17,000 miles per hour!

I don’t know what prompted me to do this (it was nothing to do with watching “Gravity” or the Channel 4 Live from Space special the other week, honestly!) but last Tuesday I was up at 5.55am with a torch, a compass and my fist at arms length (a quick way of measuring 10 degrees elevation when “rested” on the horizon) looking towards South South West from my kitchen window.

I really didn’t believe I’d see it so I made myself a cup of tea to bring back to bed, then out of the blue at exactly 6.01 am as per the NASA website, a bright light appeared in the sky. A cross between a bright star and a distant plane (the ISS hasn’t got flashing lights on it’s wings) it moved at a steady speed (17,000 m.p.h!) in a Southernly direction for a few minutes.

The space station when seen is the third brightest object in the sky and visible because it’s reflecting light from the Sun. It’s usually on view from Earth early in the morning or in the evening and NASA has a page which alerts you to when and where it will appear in your location (see here). When you realise what you are actually seeing, it’s a magnificent sight!

Also if you want to see live streaming from the ISS 24 hours a day have a look hereP