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11 May 2005 1713 BST
Picture: Mark Lawrik-Thompson
Graphic: Have you seen the International Space Station?
Norfolk astronomer and Chairman of the Norwich Astronomical Society,
Mark Lawrik-Thompson writes about the International Space Station.
Picture: The International Space Station
The International Space Station high above Earth

Ever seen what looks like a UFO or bright lights in the Norfolk sky? Chances are, you've seen the International Space station passing over.

Norfolk astronomer, Mark Lawrik-Thompson tells us more.

Have you ever looked at the sky in Norfolk and seen some bright lights that look like a UFO (Unidentified Flying Object)? Something that just doesn't seem to be a normal plane?

Chances are that if you have, then you have been watching the International Space Station pass over head.

Picture: The International Space Station in the sky
Gary Bradshaw took this picture of the space station in the Norfolk sky

The space station is being built by many different countries.

Although it's not finished, it is already the largest man-made object in space, measuring about 118 metres across and 96 metres long and almost an acre of solar panels to provide electricity!

How to spot it

If you want to try and spot the station as it passes overhead at about 400 km, it's actually very easy.

It completes an orbit of the Earth every 90 minutes. Athough it isn't always visible in the sky, you can see the space station from Norfolk this month.

You don't need any optical instruments as the space station is bright enough to be seen with the naked eye. You just need to know when and where to look.

Log on to and select your location from the menu and it will tell you when and where to look.

Happy hunting.

If you have any pictures of the International Space Station, send them to us at

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See also

On this site

Astronomy index

Make a rocket

Planet Jupiter

Planet Mars

Planet Saturn

Planet Venus

The outer planets

The Moon

The Sun

The Star of Bethlehem

Ask the astronomer

Your questions answered


BBC Space

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On the rest of the web

Norwich Astronomical Society

North Norfolk Astronomical Society

Breckland Astronomical Society

NASA for Kids

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