Santa tracker 2021: ISS visible in the sky on Christmas Day morning

·2 min read
A silhouette of flying Father Christmas (Getty Images)
A silhouette of flying Father Christmas (Getty Images)

It’s almost the most important night of the year.

This evening, children will go to sleep with the knowledge that Santa is ready to mount his reindeer-lead sleigh and travel across the globe, delivering presents to all those who were well-behaved throughout 2021.

Those who would like to get into the festive spirit and want to track Father Christmas’s journey, will be pleased to know that there will indeed be a bright object travelling through the sky, that is visible to the naked eye.

This object is NASA’s International Space Station (ISS), which can be seen from 6,700 locations worldwide.

According to the agency, it is the third brightest object in the sky and easy to spot, if you know when to look up.

To the naked eye it looks like a fast-moving plane, only much higher and travelling thousands of miles faster, which is why it could pass for Father Christmas’s sleigh.

For those who would like to track “Father Christmas’s journey” tonight, NASA has created a searchable map.

Several times a week, experts determines sighting opportunities at more than 6,000 locations worldwide, which can be found on NASA’s website.

Simply type in your location here, and the website will tell you if you might be able to spot the ISS.

“If your specific city or town isn’t listed, pick one that is fairly close to you. The space station is visible for a long distance around each of the listed locations,” NASA said.

Will Santa’s sleigh pass over the UK?

As luck would have it, the ISS will be visible this Christmas.

According to astronomer Chris Lintott, the ISS, or Father Christmas’s sleigh, will be passing over the UK at approximately 6.50am on Christmas morning.

“An early reminder that there’s a spectacular passage of the International Space Station visible from the UK and passing overhead at about 6.50am on Christmas morning,” he tweeted.

“Perfect for pointing out to kids who are up early for some reason.”

Will Santa’s sleigh pass over the US?

The ISS will also be visible in parts of the US on Christmas.

According to the NASA website, it will pass over New York City on Christmas morning at approximately 6.27am. It will be visible for around four minutes.

It will also be visible from Illinois at around 5.27am for approximately two minutes.

It will not be visible in western parts of the US, such as California, on Christmas day.

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