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When to spot the International Space Station, Comet Neowise and 2 planets - July night sky highlights for the UK

A cosmic feast

Comet Neowise over the Ridgeway Picture: Phil Hawkins
Comet Neowise over the Ridgeway Picture: Phil Hawkins

IT'S back! The International Space Station is visible over UK skies from now until the beginning of August - that's three weeks when you can spot an actual spaceship, carrying real life astronauts, looking down on us looking up at them.

But it's not just about a man made craft - Comet Neowise is making its presence felt too and the picture above was taken by Phil Hawkins from Thatcham who wrote: 'Inspired by Dave Foulger's superb photo (see Dave's picture below), here is another photo of the same comet taken in the early hours of Sunday morning from the car park near where the Ridgeway path crosses the A34.'

Phil used a 600mm lens, F8 with 2 sec exposure.

Comet Neowise is visible to the naked eye until the end of the month and will reach its closest point to Earth on July 23, when it will be about 64 million miles away - or about 400 times further away than the Moon. But many people are spotting it in these great clear skies already.

How and when to see it from the UK

Comet NEOWISE should be visible from about an hour after sunset by looking in a northerly direction.
It will travel from the north-west to north-east through the night.
If the skies are clear, it will be best seen at about 2.30am by looking north-east just above the horizon.

Joining in the fun are the planets Jupiter and Saturn which rise during nightfall in early July, around sunset in mid-July, and before sundown by the month's end.

But if it's the International Space Station you are waiting for, if you missed it last night, then you need to stay up until 1.37am or 3.14am, not technically Sunday we know, but the early hours of July 13, to catch your first glimpse.

Here are some of the more civilised times for next week: Monday, July 13, 11.19pm; Tuesday, July 14 - 00.50am, 10.26pm; Wednesday, July 15, 00.02am, 11.14pm; Thursday, July 16, 10.26pm; Friday, July 17, 00.02am, 11.14pm and Saturday, July 18 10.27pm.

These times are approximate, so give yourself 10 minutes either side and can also change if the space station performs an orbital boost and changes its orbit. The International Space Station always appears from the westerly part of the sky, although not necessarily the same point, and a pass can last around five minutes.

The ISS is also visible at regular intervals throughout the night, but we reckon you need to get some sleep! We'll post the following week's times next Sunday.

Happy sky gazing and don't forget to email your cosmic photographs to geraldine.gardner@newburynews.co.uk so we can create a gallery of pictures.

Can you take a photograph like Phil Hawkins, above, or this shot taken by Dave Foulger from Combe Gibbet?

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