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Dublin: 19 °C Wednesday 30 July, 2014

Space station visible in Irish skies tonight

The ISS has been constantly manned for the past ten years and is about the same size as Croke Park.

Part of the ISS and Earth photographed from the spacecraft.
Part of the ISS and Earth photographed from the spacecraft.
Image: AP Photo/NASA

SO LONG AS THE clouds stay away tonight, there’s a good chance you can watch the International Space Station as it passes over Ireland.

At roughly the size of Croke Park, the ISS is the largest-ever spacecraft sent into orbit and it circles the planet at about 350km above the Earth’s surface.

Astronomy Ireland chairman David Moore says that the ISS will be the brightest object in the night sky and should be visible in the southern sky at 10.34pm tonight. The spacecraft will travel over Ireland until 24 April.

For the past ten years, the ISS has been constantly manned. Its crew is repeatedly being replaced with cycles of new members; the departing and arriving teams overlap on board for a period between changeovers.

Half of those on board right now arrived at the ISS in mid-November and are due to return to Earth later this month, landing on 27 April. The three other astronauts joined them in December, and they will return home on 1 July.

Russia’s Soyuz rockets have been relied on as the main transport link between Earth and the ISS for both personnel and supplies following the end of NASA’s space shuttle programme last summer.

The six people on board the ISS are supported by around 100,000 people on the ground and 16 countries have been involved in the project.

There is a reinforced section on board the ISS for the crew to huddle in for safety during solar storms or if the ISS is passing through space debris.

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