BRIGHT LIGHT: Mac Jonsen says the International Space Station appears as a bright star in the sky.
BRIGHT LIGHT: Mac Jonsen says the International Space Station appears as a bright star in the sky. Scottie Simmonds

International Space Station seen over Bundy skies

UPDATE: At 8.09pm the International Space Station could be seen travelling south-east over Bundaberg before vanishing into the distance after about three minutes. 

The space station appeared as a bright star moving through the night sky. 

EARLIER: Astronomy enthusiasts will be able to see the International Space Station for six minutes as it flies over Queensland tonight.

Alloway Observatory's Mac Jonsen said the space station, which houses international space explorers, would be of a similar brightness to Jupiter.

"The brightest star in the sky is Jupiter, it'd be about the same brightness," he said. 

"It's just like watching a bright light travelling across the sky."

Mr Jonsen said the skies would be clear tonight.

"We should be able to see it," he said.

The space station will travel over Australia from the Gulf of Carpentaria and track south-east for about six minutes from just after 8pm (AEST).

Mr Jonsen said it would be fascinating for people in the region to know there were astronomers on board the space station as it passed through.

"It (space station) keeps them reasonably comfortable while they're up there," he said. 

According to the ABC, Australasian Science Magazine spokesman Dave Reneke says it is best observed with the naked eye, as it will be too quick for a telescope or binoculars.

He says while it is not a rare event, it is an under-appreciated experience.

"It won't be shooting across the sky, it'll be moving as fast as a normal satellite would be," he said.

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International Space Station facts:

  • The International Space Station marked its 10th anniversary of continuous human occupation on November 2, 2010. Since Expedition 1, which launched October 31, 2000 the space station has been visited by 204 individuals.
  • At the time of the anniversary, the station's odometer read more than 1.5 billion statute miles (the equivalent of eight round trips to the sun), over the course of 57,361 orbits around the earth.
  • As of July 2012, there have been 125 launches to the space station since the launch of the first module, Zarya, at 1.40am EST on November 20, 1998: 81 Russian vehicles, 37 space shuttles, one US commercial vehicle, three European and three Japanese vehicles. 
  • A total of 162 spacewalks have been conducted in support of space station assembly totaling more than 1021 hours.
  • The space station, including its large solar arrays, spans the area of a US football field, including the end zones, and weighs 861,804 pounds, not including visiting vehicles. The complex now has more livable room than a conventional five-bedroom house, and has two bathrooms, a gymnasium and a 360-degree bay window.


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