What a lovely way to start Christmas as we can — weather permitting — watch the International Space Station flying right over London on Christmas Eve.

iss_sts119_bigThose of you with children might even be able to persuade them that the bright star zooming overhead like no other is none other than one Father Christmas out on his annual duties.

Of course, seeing the space station is weather dependent, and worryingly, early forecasts do not look hopeful.

But, assuming that all is well, what you want to do is find a nice place with a decent view of the sky — a park, or anywhere above the local street lighting level will do.

It should become visible around about 4:23pm, depending on how much of the horizon you can see, and pass right overhead just after 4:26pm.

To see it, face directly to the West no more than a couple of minutes before it is due to arrive to get used to the dark sky — then watch out for a single bright star flying in a straight line directly towards you and overheard. That’s the space station. It takes a moment to spot it, but once you do, it becomes very noticeable.

You should be able to watch it for a minute or two as it flies over.

Technically, the space station passes just inside the M25 barrier to qualify as “over London” for my purposes — but because of its height, it will appear to be right overhead from the ground, regardless of where you are in London.

Don’t forget to give a wave to the astronauts (or Father Christmas).



Addendum — the ISS will be visible from MOST of England — and the flypast last a couple of minutes over England, so the times are as above, give or take 10-20 seconds. Obviously, if you are north of London, you will need to look very slightly to the southern half of the sky above.

It should be dark enough to see at the 4:30pm pass, but if not, or too cloudy, there is another flypast a couple of minutes past 6pm. Technically it’s over France — so you need to look to the south to see it, and it is a lot dimmer alas.


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  1. Maria Morris says:

    what time will it pass over abingdon? (oxon)

  2. Laura @AboutLondon says:

    I thought it was passing over the UK at 17.57 on Christmas Eve. I got the info from meteorwatch.org. I want to make sure I’m waving to ‘Santa’ at the right time!

    • IanVisits says:

      There is a pass by at 17:57, but it’s mostly over France, and while visible “from” London, it’s not “over London” and will also be quite dim compared to the London fly over.

  3. Troy Pendrey says:

    Is it possible to see in essex

  4. Hazel says:

    What time will we see it in Manchester and which direction do i look?

    • IanVisits says:

      It’ll be over Manchester about 10 seconds before it is over London. Obviously, you’ll be wanting to look at the southern half of the sky.

  5. Mark Eddy says:

    Will it be visible from South Wales and if so what is best time?

  6. Nella naed says:

    Will it be visabale over hayling island if so what time and where do we look to see it best

  7. lindsey says:

    What time will it go over knutsford cheshire thanks

  8. Lisa Shimmin says:

    I live on te coast of Dorset, will it be visible from there? And which direction should I look. My daughter will love this!

  9. Susie Bell says:

    Can it be seen from portsmouth central and if so wat time and direction should we be looking

  10. Jamin Parker says:

    Will this be visible from the U.S. at all? I’d love to be able to see it from Texas, but can’t find any more information about this. Thank you!

  11. Leah McArdle says:

    I doubt it will be, but will this be visible from Newry, Northern Ireland?

  12. Lydia says:

    From what I’ve read I guessing it won’t be visible from anywhere in Scotland?

  13. Laura says:

    Where and at what time should we be looking from Leicester?

  14. Judith says:

    What time will it be seen from Ely, Cambs., and what direction?

  15. robert says:

    Will we see it in glasgow? My 5 year old would love this!!

  16. katir says:

    HI, What time will it past Hull?

  17. Paul says:

    Any idea if or when will pass over Birmingham (uk)

  18. Angela says:

    Will it be visible from Manchester and if so what time? Thanks

  19. Paul says:

    The times published here are unfortunately incorrect. If you want the exact times, go here http://www.heavens-above.com/ and on the main page change your location, and click on the ISS link to see when the ISS will fly over.

    For most people it will start just before 6, so if you go out and look up towards the South West you should see it moving slowly across the sky. If it’s clear it’s unmissable and a very impressive sight.

  20. SarahJane says:

    Will the shuttle be visible from Northern Ireland (co.fermanagh UK) at all??

  21. Martin says:

    We saw it! Timings were correct – directly overhead in London 4.26pm precisely. Like a fairly bright star moving quite fast. Brilliant.

  22. Teri says:

    We saw it, thank you! A great sight to see and what a fab night to show the kids ‘Santa’. Fabulous. Timings spot on too!

  23. Clive says:

    Shown as appearing again at 6.02 (5.57 on some websites from WSW heading and disappearing SSE. Missed the 1st, hope we can catch this one

  24. Jamie says:

    It is currently visible in Edinburgh!

  25. melanie says:

    Just seen the space station past in front of my house in Runcorn heading north it was quite amazing 🙂

  26. Mark says:

    Just saw it over South Wales.
    Very magical for my 3 year old. Especially as the local “Santa” only left our house 10 minutes before.

  27. Louise says:

    Was over poole dorset at 6pm

  28. Steve says:

    Seen it in South Shields, Tyne & Wear UK at 6:02pm

  29. fangfufu says:

    Thank you, it was wonderful! 🙂

  30. Kevin Masters says:

    We saw it over Southampton uk at 1800 hrs grandchildren shouted abd waved at Santa

  31. Agamemnian says:

    Saw it at 18.00 from Gloucester. My kids were amazed and my 4 year old reckoned he saw Santa, his reindeers and all his presents. Well worth standing in the cold for!

  32. Emma says:

    Any one no if this is happening again this year and where to get info from?

  33. Paul williams says:

    Is it visible for Liverpool @ the 1800 passing ??

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