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ISS to brighten Europe's night skies

Starry starry night...

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A diary marker for all you stargazers out there. This weekend (given clear skies, of course) most of Europe ought to be able to get a clear view of the International Space Station as it passes overhead.

The International Space Station

The ISS is generally only visible just after sunset or just before dawn. Twice a year, however, it moves out of the Earth's shadow and can be seen with the naked eye as it passes overhead. It will be visible up to four times in a night.

The ISS orbits the planet at 7.7km every second, but since it is a mere 400km up, and has so many solar panels, it is bright enough that it is easily visible to the naked eye - as long as you know where to look.

Photo-enthusiasts can even try to snap a picture of it as it whizzes past, although a picture taken on Monday by a team in Germany will take some beating. The rather impressively detailed picture above was captured at the Munich Public Observatory.

The European Space Agency has charts showing the best viewing times for the next week or so at various locations across Europe, so make a note, do an anti-rain dance and turn your peepers skywards. ®

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