Observing

See the International Space Station pass overhead from the UK tonight

5 October 2017 Ade Ashford

Urban dwellers may resign themselves to spotting the Moon, planets and the brightest stars with the unaided eye on a clear night, but every so often a bright satellite will catch your attention as it glides silently across the sky. The brightest is the 400-tonne International Space Station (ISS) whose orbit carries it directly overhead as seen from the British Isles and parts of Western Europe tonight.

Observing

See the International Space Station, Moon and Saturn in the UK sky tonight

2 August 2017 Ade Ashford

The serene beauty of the International Space Station sailing silently overhead needs nothing more than the naked eye to appreciate. But when the dazzling ISS is also in conjunction with a pair of prominent Solar System bodies — such at the Moon and Saturn on the night of 2 August 2017 in the UK — you may wish to grab your binoculars and look low in the south-southwest just before 11:20pm BST.

News

Fermi space telescope expands its search for dark matter

14 August 2016 Astronomy Now

Dark matter, the mysterious substance that constitutes most of the material universe, remains as elusive as ever. Although experiments on the ground and in space have yet to find a trace of dark matter, six or more years of data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has broadened the mission’s dark matter hunt using some novel approaches.

Observing

See the International Space Station glide over the UK

2 August 2016 Ade Ashford

If you chance upon a bright ‘star’ crawling across the sky in an arc from west to east, an object that doesn’t flash or possess red and green running lights (which is an aircraft), then you can be fairly certain that you’re looking at the International Space Station (ISS). Find out when and where to see it from the British Isles and Western Europe this week.

Observing

See the International Space Station over the UK

4 June 2016 Ade Ashford

In recent nights, observers in the UK and Western Europe have seen the International Space Station (ISS) as a bright naked-eye ‘star’ moving slowly across the sky from west to east. On Thursday, 9 June, London is favoured for some close approaches of the ISS to the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. If you see the Station, spare a thought for Tim Peake and the Expedition 47 crew on board!

Picture This

Mercury and International Space Station transit the Sun

1 June 2016 Astronomy Now

French astrophotographer Thierry Legault travelled to the suburbs of Philadelphia, USA to capture both the International Space Station and planet Mercury transiting the Sun on 9 May. This image includes multiple stacked frames to show the Station’s path in the fraction of a second it took to cross the Sun, while Mercury appears as a black dot at bottom-centre.

Picture This

Tim Peake’s ISS view of the waxing Moon

12 February 2016 Astronomy Now

In this image we see the young lunar crescent as seen from the International Space Station by ESA astronaut Tim Peake on 9 February 2016. At the time of the photograph the Moon was just 1.2 days old. Features on the Earth-facing side of the Moon not directly illuminated by the Sun are glowing softly due to earthshine, light reflected onto the Moon from our planet.

Picture This

Tim Peake’s aurora photography masterclass

21 January 2016 Astronomy Now

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and ESA astronaut Tim Peake shared a series of aurora photographs taken from the International Space Station on 20 January 2016. The dancing lights of the aurora provide spectacular views on the ground, but also capture the imagination of scientists who study incoming energy and particles from the Sun.

Picture This

Tim Peake’s Principia spacewalk

16 January 2016 Astronomy Now

European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake pictured during his 4 hour 43 minute spacewalk to replace a failed power regulator and install cabling on the International Space Station. Tim commented on this image: “Today’s exhilarating spacewalk will be etched in my memory forever — quite an incredible feeling!”

News

ISS astronaut pictures of Earth used for light pollution studies

12 August 2015 Astronomy Now

Scientists are using photographs taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to reliably measure the amount of light pollution worldwide and to produce a global colour map of the Earth at night. The total cost of the energy consumption for streetlights is estimated by the study to be 6300 million euros/year in the European Union.