When to see Santa in the sky this Christmas

Santa Claus will soon be coming to town and we know how you can spot him. 

It’s become a tradition in many family homes to look out for the International Space Station (ISS) and tell young children it’s Father Christmas on his sleigh.

And this year you can look out for him on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as he flies to and from home delivering presents around the world. 

The International Space Station is the largest space station laboratory ever built and orbits the earth.

As it reflects light from the Sun it looks like a bright light (or indeed, Santa’s sleigh) cruising past.

When do I need to look?

If your little ones are up early with all the excitement on Christmas Eve, you’ve got two chances to spot him.

  • The first one is at 4.42am but the space station will be visible for less than a minute.
  • There’s a second chance at 6.15am when you will have three minutes to spot him in the sky – and he will be higher above the horizon.

On Christmas Day itself, you can see him flying home for his breakfast at 5.30am for a minute and 7.03am for six minutes.

What am I looking for?

Basically you’re looking for a bright, white moving light in the sky. 

The space station looks like an airplane or a very bright star moving across the sky, except it doesn’t have flashing lights or change direction.

It will also be moving considerably faster than a typical airplane (airplanes generally fly at about 600 miles per hour; the space station flies at 17,500 miles per hour).

We’ll need clear skies to spot it so keep your fingers crossed for a favourable forecast.

Go to spotthestation.nasa.gov for more details on where to look and how to track.

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