"The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week (WSW) to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition.”
There are plenty of activities that you can get involved with to celebrate the week. See below.
In 2020 World Space Week is "Celebrating Satellites."
This fits in beautifully with our current project which is part of the ASDC led programme: 'Destination Space: Phase 2; Level 2.
We are very proud to be one of the 13 Science Centres across the country selected to be part of this project and are delighted to be working with ASDC on this UK Space Agency funded initiative. The project has been designed to create and deliver an exciting new National Space Education and Engagement Programme.
This national programme will celebrate the innovation and skills within the wider UK Space Sector in terms of UK space exploration, including UK Spaceports and space launchers, the new James Webb Space Telescope, the ExoMars mission and satellite applications. It also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing in 2019 and the UK's role in this.
You can learn more about this project by visiting the Science Centre. Come along and find out about the proposed spaceports and how satellites can help all sorts of communities around the world. Look at a giant satellite image of our local area and try and spot the domes of The Science Centre, which look really tiny!
A satellite can be natural or artificial. What does that mean? The Moon is a natural satellite of Earth because it orbits the Earth. The Earth is a natural satellite of the Sun because it orbits the Sun. Moons of other planets and planets themselves are also natural satellites.
Artificial satellites are machines launched into space to either orbit around Earth or another body in space. We tend to think of artificial satellites as those in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Anything launched beyond Earth’s atmosphere is usually called a spacecraft. However, if spacecraft orbit a body such as Earth it doesn’t matter how far out they are they can still technically be classed as a satellite.
Thousands of artificial, or man-made, satellites orbit Earth. Some of them have cameras which take pictures of Earth. This helps meteorologists predict weather and track storms etc. Some take pictures of outer space and collect information about other planets, the Sun, black holes, dark matter or faraway galaxies. These pictures help scientists better understand the solar system and universe.
Other satellites are used mainly for communications, such as beaming TV signals and phone calls around the world. A group of more than 20 satellites make up the Global Positioning System, or GPS. If you have a GPS receiver, these satellites can help figure out your exact location.
Image courtesy of NASA
Satellites come in many shapes and sizes. But most have at least two parts in common - an antenna and a power source. The antenna sends and receives information, often to and from Earth. The power source can be a solar panel or battery. Solar panels make power by turning sunlight into electricity and if they reflect the Sun’s light back to Earth then you can see them as tiny specks moving across the sky.
Image courtesy of NASA Kids
Most satellites are launched into space on rockets. A satellite orbits Earth when its speed is balanced by the pull of Earth's gravity. Without this balance, the satellite would fly in a straight line off into space or fall back to Earth. Satellites orbit Earth at different heights, different speeds and along different paths. The two most common types of orbit are "geostationary" (jee-oh-STAY-shun-air-ee) and "polar."
A geostationary satellite travels from west to east over the equator. It moves in the same direction and at the same rate Earth is spinning. From Earth, a geostationary satellite looks like it is standing still since it is always above the same location.
Polar-orbiting satellites travel in a north-south direction from pole to pole. As Earth spins underneath, these satellites can scan the entire globe, one strip at a time.
Image courtesy Encyclopedia Brittanica
Observing satellites is simple. After sunset when the sky is dark, go outside and turn off any outdoor lights. Let your eyes adjust to the darkness. Look at the stars. You can easily tell a satellite from a star because the satellite is moving. Sometimes it may appear to blink because it is rotating. Satellites will move across the sky at different altitudes from horizon to horizon.
The reason why you can see satellites is because they reflect the Sun's light. Even though it is dark where you are standing, there is still sunlight above you in low-Earth orbit (LEO). On a typical evening with dark skies, you can easily see several satellites.
The brightest satellite of all is the International Space Station (ISS). This massive orbiting laboratory is operated by the United States, Russia, European Space Agency, Japan, and Canada and is permanently crewed. It is really bright and while you cannot see it in the night sky every evening you can find out when it is visible in our "What to see" guide. You can sometimes see it more than once because it takes just 90 minutes to orbit the Earth. It appears to travel across the sky quite quickly.
Image courtesy NASA
As mentioned, the International Space Station is very bright. The measure of brightness is termed its magnitude. The unaided eye (no telescopes or binoculars) can see down to magnitude +6. This is 100 times fainter than magnitude +1. A negative number is therefore brighter than a positive number. The brightest objects in the night or morning sky are usually planets. Have a look at the "What will I see" page for more information about the objects visible at the moment. What will I see
Telescopes and binoculars are not needed to observe satellites. In fact, the unaided eye is much better at identifying satellites moving against the starry background.
The number of LEO satellites is increasing. Large satellites in very high (geostationary) orbit have been used for decades to relay TV and communications around the world. Several companies such as SpaceX are launching many smaller satellite constellations into LEO. Soon there may be thousands of such satellites in LEO!
To find specific satellites you might like to view Stuffin.space (please note the URL states that it is not secure).