Springbrook Observatory observation director Andre Clayden with a robotic telescope.
Springbrook Observatory observation director Andre Clayden with a robotic telescope.

Space Station over Tweed skies

SPOTTING the International Space Station with the naked eye is not as difficult as you might think, providing you know where and when to look.

And despite having access to powerful telescopic equipment, that is exactly what astronomer and director of Observation at Springbrook Observatory Andre Clayden will be doing over the next week when the research facility will be best viewed in southern skies.

“Surprisingly we can't see it with our equipment because it is moving faster than the earth's rotation,” he said.

“The ISS is passing fairly quickly, probably about 22,000 km/h, so the naked eye is the best way to view it because it will be bright, about as bright as Venus.”

Despite the ISS circling the earth every 90 minutes, looking down on 85 per cent of populated areas, Mr Clayden encouraged stargazers to step outside and view the ever-growing manufactured object.

“It doesn't do it every month, but sometimes we see it a few times a month.

“It's an amazing man-made feat and just keeps getting bigger and bigger as they keep adding to it.”

The ISS will be best viewed after 5.30pm this afternoon and between 5am and 6am for a week from Monday being brightest on Tuesday.

Ten surprising facts about the international space station

  • The Space Station is the largest manned object ever sent into space, encompassing 43,000 cubic feet of living and working space - the equivalent of two Boeing 747's.
  • Assembling the Space Station will require 45 launches - 36 from the United States and nine from Russia - and 1,705 hours of space walks, which is double the number of hours U.S. astronauts have walked in space since the beginning of the space program.
  • When fully constructed, the Space Station will be visible to more than 90 percent of the world's population.
  • Humans need a little less sleep in space because our bodies do very little work in a microgravity environment. It takes no effort at all to raise an arm, hold your head up, or move a bulky object.
  • The Space Station consists of 70 separate major components and hundreds of minor ones, all of which will be assembled for the first time in space.
  • Astronauts aboard the Space Station will spend more time working on experiments than anything else. Many projects require teamwork, so astronauts frequently work in pairs.
  • The Space Station circles the Earth every 90 minutes, and looks down on 85 percent of the populated areas.
  • The human body tends to lose muscle and bone mass rapidly in space. To fight this loss, at least two hours of strenuous exercise is built into every astronaut's daily schedule on the Space Station.
  • The construction of the Space Station is a collaboration of 100,000 people, hundreds of companies, and sixteen nations spread over four continents, among them the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  • The Space Station is the most expensive single object ever built. The United States' participation has been estimated at $96 billion - a figure that nearly equals the combined cost of all of the Apollo missions to the moon.

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