Last Updated: Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:05 am (KSA) 08:05 am (GMT)

UAE capital to witness passage of ISS across the sun

The ISS revolves around the earth at a height 350 meters
The ISS revolves around the earth at a height 350 meters

The UAE capital Abu Dhabi will witness on Saturday the passage of the 51-meter-long and 109-meter-wide International Space Station (ISS) through the sun disk.

The Emirates Astronomical Society, the Dubai Astronomy Group, the Islamic Crescents Observation Project, and the UAE Mobile Astronomical Observatory are will jointly stage an observatory deck near the Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi for watching the 20 meter high space ship crossing the UAE air space on Saturday at about 11.42 a.m.

The show will last for 0.6 seconds and members of the public will be able to see it on wide screens and telescopes provided by the relevant astronomical groups .

Renowned French photographer Thierry Legault will be in Abu Dhabi to take pictures of the crossing. Legault, who specializes in astronomical photography, took pictures of the last ISS eclipse from Oman, which were published by several prestigious astronomical organizations.

Legault is also known for taking a picture of the crescent at the moment of its formation, thus capturing it in its smallest form.

The ISS will appear as a black dot crossing quickly in front of the face of the sun disk, which means Legault has very limited time to take another of his historic shots.

International Space Station

The International Space Station will appear as a black dot on the face of the sun

The ISS serves as a research laboratory that has a microgravity environment in which crews conduct experiments in biology, chemistry, medicine, physiology and physics, as well as astronomical and meteorological observations.

The station, whose cost has been estimated at $100 billion over 30 years, provides a unique environment for the testing of the spacecraft systems that will be required for missions to the Moon and Mars.The ISS is operated by Expedition crews of six astronauts and cosmonauts, with the station program maintaining an uninterrupted human presence in space.

Operated as a joint project between the five participant space agencies, the station's sections are controlled by mission control centers on the ground operated by the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Because of the size of the ISS (about that of an American football field) and the large reflective area offered by its solar panels, ground based observation of the station is possible with the naked eye if the observer is in the right location at the right time. In many cases, the station is one of the brightest naked-eye objects in the sky, although it is visible only for periods ranging from two to five minutes.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid and edited by Mustapha Ajbaili)

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