It's the most wonderful time of the year for kids in the UK. The International Space Station (ISS) will fly over UK on Christmas Eve from 4:42 p.m. to 4:50 p.m., giving the illusion of Santa's sleigh flying in the sky to deliver holiday gifts.
The ISS is the biggest man-made object in the sky. It measures 357 feet from one end to another and weighs approximately 100,000 pounds. Virtual Astronomer posted on Twitter that the ISS will pass over UK just in time for Christmas. It could easily be mistaken for an aircraft; however, the ISS will be instantly recognizable because it moves faster and has no flashing lights.
"When the ISS passes over it will appear as an incredibly bright star like object or plane without flashing lights moving across the sky," wrote Virtual Astronomer on Twitter. At certain times, ISS will even be brighter than the Moon, they added.
The ISS rises from the west and gets brighter; however, many people find it challenging to spot it at first. NASA has created the Spot the Station online tool to determine where the ISS will rise and disappear based on the viewer's location.
Younger kids in the UK will be delighted to see Santa Claus in the sky. As for older kids who already know that trick, spotting the ISS in the night sky would be a great chance for some astronomy exercises, as the ISS celebrates its 15th year anniversary. ISS has been providing the international scientific community with magnificent views of the Earth from space.
More than 69 countries have contributed to the ISS development and operation since the launched of the first module in 1998. About 211 astronauts from 15 countries have paid a visit in the ISS since.
On Dec. 24, 2014, the ISS also masqueraded as Santa's sleigh and made an appearance in the UK skies for six minutes starting at 5:22 p.m. The crew filmed a holiday video message with Flight Engineer Terry Virts and Commander Barry Wilmore floating beside a Christmas tree inside the ISS.
"We want to take the opportunity just briefly to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Christmas for us is a time of worship. It's a time we think back to the birth of what we would consider our Lord," said Wilmore.