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Your chance to spot the International Space Station, or was it Santa's sleigh?

Santa or the ISS? Photo: Ronald Wittek/DPA/Press Association Images

The International Space Station is due to pass over the UK on Christmas Eve giving children a great opportunity to spot "Santa's sleigh".

Parents could be forgiven for using the opportunity to help persuade any wavering believers in Father Christmas.

With clear skies forecast, conditions are likely to be perfect for seeing the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit around the Earth.

The International Space Station. Credit: Reuters

The ISS will be visible at 5.22pm across the UK, but for varying lengths of time and at slightly differing angles.

The further north you are, the closer to the horizon it will be.

Here is a guide on how long you will be able to see the ISS and where you can spot it in the sky (90 degrees is directly above you):

  • London: 4 minutes, at 45 degrees, 35 above WSW
  • Birmingham: 4 minutes, at 41 degrees, 34 above WSW
  • Manchester: 4 minutes, at 35 degrees, 30 above SW
  • Newcastle: 3 minutes, at 27 degrees, 25 above SW
  • Edinburgh: 3 minutes, at 24 degrees, 23 above SW
  • Belfast: 3 minutes, at 33 degrees, 32 above SW

It can be easy to mistake the ISS for other aircraft, but the spacecraft has no flashing lights and moves a little faster.

The best viewing opportunities will be from place with little light pollution, like the countryside or a large local park. It is best to go outside a few minutes early to let your eyes adjust to the dark.

There are currently six crew members on the ISS who will celebrate Christmas and see in 2015 from Space.

You can find out more details on the NASA website.