Major Tim and the ISS

15 12 2015

I didn’t want to post anything until Major Tim Peake safely reached orbit but now he’s up above the atmosphere racing to catch up with the International Space Station I want to congratulate him and wish him the best for his six month mission. 

Tonight the ISS will pass directly over London and if the clouds clear it will be visible across most of the UK from 5:12pm to 5:19pm. 

We see the ISS as a bright light passing across the sky because although the sun has passed below the horizon for us and it is dark on the ground the ISS is high enough above us that it is still lit by the sun. What we actually see is the reflection of the sun bouncing off the solar panels of the ISS like a massive space mirror. 

There are websites you can visit to see when the ISS will pass overhead. 

This is ISS Astroviewer showing tonight’s pass


You can also download apps for your phone. I use ISS Spotter from Mediapilot for my iPhone. This gives you and up to date position of the ISS and shows you where and when to look to see a visible pass. 

I was lucky enough to meet and speak briefly with Major Tim at a conference last year. He seems like a lovely chap. I’ll be following his adventures on Twitter and watching out as he passes overhead for the next 6 months. Good luck, Tim. 


UPDATE: ha! I was so caught up in live feed from the Soyuz/ISS that I totally forgot to head out and watch Tim pass overhead tonight. That was hairy- they had to fly it in themselves after the computers went down. Joining two large bits of metal both travelling at 17,500mph is no mean feat even if they are heading in the same direction. Well done to you all. 





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