Look up: Ireland to get stunning view of space mission Tuesday to Thursday

Update 15/4: Astronomy Ireland now estimates the two bright 'stars' will be visible on both Wednesday and Thursday night, as the docking procedure is not due until Friday midday.

Look up: Ireland to get stunning view of space mission Tuesday to Thursday

Wednesday's spectacle is estimated for 9.14pm Irish time. Updates are available onastronomy.ie from about 8pm (sunset) each night.

Good news on the horizon for skywatchers - Ireland will get a good look at tonight’s remarkable space station resupply spectacle - as a rocket chases the satellite across the sky.

And tomorrow night, we'll be in an equally good position as the ISS and Dragon shine brighter than the stars.

The Dragon spacecraft from SpaceX was due to resupply the International Space Station last night, but was postponed due to weather in Florida. It's due to take place just after 9pm Irish time tonight, Tuesday April 14, and will see the ISS traverse Irish skies while being "chased" by Dragon.

What that means is that Irish observers will be able to see two extra stars in the sky, visible even in brightly-lit cities.

Of course, they're not really stars at all, but the two man-made spacecraft. Assuming that Florida launches the Dragon craft at 9.12pm as scheduled, it should fly over Ireland at 9.30pm - with the Dragon craft in hot pursuit.

Of course, space launches are complicated affairs, and all sky watchers know nothing is guaranteed - but there is a very good chance.

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, will see both craft roll around once more, side-by-side. Astronomy Ireland says they will appear at 9.14pm Wednesday "in an absolutely stunning spectacle plainly visible to the naked eye."

Astronomy Ireland also recommend taking a look to the West after sunset, where Venus - the brightest planet in our system - is passing a star cluster known as The Seven Sisters.

"While you marvel at Venus, perhaps while you're out waiting for the space station to fly over, look just to its right and you'll see the Seven Sisters cluster with the naked eye!" said David Moore, Chairman of Astronomy Ireland.

"This week should be one of the most amazing of the year for stargazers, with the ISS and Venus and its cluster to see, all in one night," he said.

SpaceX provide live updates of the mission launch on the company's website.

Times provided by Astronomy Ireland

• Tuesday April 14, 9:12pm : Dragon launched from Florida

• Tuesday April 14, 9:30pm : Dragon crosses Irish skies low in South, not exceptionally bright

• Tuesday April 14, 10:08pm: ISS blazes across the sky, very high up, outshining every star in the sky

• Wednesday April 15, 9:14pm : ISS blazes across sky with fainter Dragon craft right next to it - an amazing sight.

Astronomy Ireland also posts updates to its ISS watch at sunset every evening - about 8pm. Check the group's website for further details.

The Dragon and the Falcon

Dragon is part of the CRS-6 launch from private enterprise SpaceX, which combines the resuable spacecraft Dragon with the Falcon 9 rocket system.

Dragon will separate from its Falcon 9 counterpart for its resupply mission once the pair have caught up with the orbiting ISS (which travels at an average 27,600kmh, orbiting earth every 92 minutes).

Dragon's capsule component will then attempt to land on a drone ship in the ocean named "Just Read The Instructions" (named in honour of sci-fi writer Iain M Banks). The capsule will attempt to steer itself on to the platform - a precise operation.


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