190926 iss nasa
The International Space Station is the largest manmade object in the sky and is home to a crew of 10 astronauts. Image Credit: NASA

Baikonur: Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori can see Earth from the ISS.

But did you know that you can also see the space station while he’s onboard as it flies over the UAE?

Hazzaa blasted off to space on Wednesday night at 5.57pm (UAE time), breaking barriers by becoming the first Emirati in space and the first Arab on the ISS.

He will stay on the ISS for eight days to conduct 16 scientific experiments, including the effect of weightlessness on his body, conduct a tour the ISS in Arabic, and host a traditional Emirati night for his space colleagues.

While he orbits the Earth 16 times a day every 90 minutes on the ISS, he will definitely be flying over the Emirates.

But when and how will we know?

Michael Flachbart, who worked for nearly 30 years at the US Space and Rocket Centre (USSRC), the official Nasa Visitor Information Centre for the Marshall Space Flight Centre, and now the space camp head of Compass International in Dubai, showed us when.

Based on calculations and modeling using information from the Spot the Station under Nasa, Flachbart said there are two best sighting opportunities for UAE residents between September 26 and October 3 during Hazzaa’s stay on the ISS.

Of course the ISS will fly by the UAE two to three times per day but the ISS cannot be seen during the day and when there are bright lights.

“The website Spot The Station only shows you sighting opportunities for two weeks. I went to some modeling software and I advanced the time to September 25th to October 2nd and I had to look to see when it was going to fly over the UAE at night time within about an hour or two of sunrise and sunset,” Flachbart told Gulf News.

“The best dates/times estimated to spot the station over the UAE are September 29 at 7.54pm and October 2 at 7.02pm.”

The ISS will not be difficult to spot as it is the third brightest object in the sky, according to Nasa.

You won’t need any special glasses or lenses to see it. It is visible to the naked eye.

How will I know it’s the ISS?

Nasa said the ISS looks like a fast-moving plane but at a higher altitude and definitely “travelling thousands of miles an hour faster.”

It actually orbits the Earth at around 28,000km/h or 7.66km/second, that is 45 times faster than the world’s fastest roller coaster. And that’s like jumping from the Burj Khalifa further down to Safa Park in one second.

Conditions have to be favourable to be able to spot the ISS, according to Compass International and SARA UAE or the Space Education Programme of Compass Curriculum.

The sky and the area where you are need to be dark for the this engineering marvel to be spotted.

And just like stars, you will see the station if there is no haze or cloud cover. Skies have to be clear.

Lastly, because the station does not have lights unlike airplanes with the blinking lights, the best time to spot it is just before sunrise or just after sunset. This way, the ISS will reflect sunlight.

For more information, visit spotthestation.nasa.gov

Source: Michael Flachbart