Great Outdoors Monday, December 21st

Cooler than Father Christmas, the International Space Station will fly over Herefordshire this week

The ISS over Earth photographed by a crew member of space shuttle Atlantis (2010).

Good work, NASA. The International Space Station will be passing over the UK on Christmas Eve - and we should be able to spot it from the shire.

Even cooler than Father Christmas, the ISS is the third brightest object in the sky after the sun and the moon and is currently carrying British astronaut Tim Peake.

If the sky is clear on Thursday, we should be able to watch it fly over Herefordshire from about 5.19pm to 5.21pm. You'll need to look south-south-west and watch for a bright dot moving fast like a shooting star.

The ISS is so bright it can be seen from city centres - so don't worry whether you're in the sticks or not, just keep your fingers crossed for no cloud cover. Track it here.

Last week European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake arrived at the station - the first Briton to do so. Tweeting from the ISS, Chichester-born Peake - who's epic Twitter location is now 'Low Earth Orbit' - has already given followers a glimpse of what life as an astronaut is like, with plenty more to come over the next six months.


If that isn't enough, there'll be a rare full moon rising on Christmas day - the first time since 1977.

December’s full moon, the last of the year, is called the Full Cold Moon because it occurs during the beginning of winter. There won't be another on December 25 until 2035.

"That’s a long time to wait, so make sure to look up to the skies on Christmas Day," stated the NASA website, adding, "As you gaze up at the Christmas moon, take note that NASA has a spacecraft currently orbiting Earth’s moon. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission has been investigating the lunar surface since 2009." 

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