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 early morning or during the evening over the Newcastle region 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.

Orbiting at 350 kilometres above the earth, the International Space Station station is an active scientific laboratory orbiting the earth and is currently conducting research into space physics and human body in space.

At the moment, the International Space Centre is home to Expedition 60 Crew which includes Christina Koch, Andrew Morton and Nick Hague from NASA, Luca Parmitano from European Space Agency and Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscomos. Astronauts usually stay for approximately six months on the ISS.

international space station
Photo credit NASA. Expedition 60 crew gathers for a meal.

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.

international space station
NASA astronaut Drew Feustel is pictured tethered to the International Space Station just outside of the Quest airlock during a spacewalk he conducted with fellow NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold (out of frame) on June 14, 2018. Photo credit: NASA

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.

The following ISS sightings are possible from Saturday Aug 10, 2019 through Friday Aug 23, 2019:

Newcastle

Lake Macquarie

Maitland / Cessnock / Kurri Kurri

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 International Space Station is seen in this 30 second exposure as it flies over Elkton, VA early in the morning, Saturday, August 1, 2015. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The International Space Station is seen in this 30 second exposure as it flies over Elkton, VA early in the morning, Saturday, August 1, 2015. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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 during this period, you can sign up for reminders as to when it will be back again.


Want more ideas for family fun? Check out 50 Free & Low-Cost Things To Do With Kids Around Newcastle.

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