The International Space Station flies above the Colosseum: a once-in-a-lifetime view

For the First National Space Day in Italy, we had the privilege to bring to the community worldwide a once-in-a-lifetime experience: the flight of the International Space Station across the sky above the legendary Colosseum.

The International Space Station crosses the constellations above the Colosseum. 6 Dec. 2021.

The International Space Station crosses the constellations above the Colosseum. 6 Dec. 2021.

To celebrate the First National Space Day in Italy, the Parco archeologico del Colosseo and The Virtual Telescope Project partnered to bring to the community a simply unique experience: the observation of two bright passes of the International Space Station (ISS) above the Colosseum. A once-in-a-lifetime sight, literally.

In our opinion, this was a perfect way to tie together our two-thousand year old history and roots with the challenges of modern space age. This national initiative was promoted by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (Italian Space Agency).

The International Space Station (ISS) is the home in space for humanity. This truly demanding endeavour involves 14 different Countries, with Italy playing a very important role. This very special satellite flies at an altitude of about 400 km, at the amazing speed of about 28000 km/h: it takes 90 minutes to the ISS to complete an orbit around us. A lot of scientific activity is carried on up there and this will help immensely once we will leave for more demanding destinations, as planet Mars.

At the time of writing, there are 10 astronauts up there.

Passes of the ISS across the sky could be very spectacular when seen from the ground. To celebrate our First National Space Day we wanted to capture and share such a transit from a place of unmatched beauty and importance, an emblem of Italy, of the City of Rome and our history: the Colosseum. Looking up from the heart of the Amphitheatre, that legendary monument seems to embrace a large portion of the sky, with its millenary walls framing stars and ancient constellations, preserving them from light pollution.

It is impossible to express by words the feeling and the excitement while admiring the cosmic panorama from the Colosseum, one of the most important monuments of the world: the beauty of the sky and the one of our home planet exalt each other and the pass of the International Space Station becomes a truly unforgettable experience. Knowing what you are seeing and where you are… is mind blowing.

The International Space Station flies above the Colosseum soon after sunset. 7 Dec. 2021.

The International Space Station flies above the Colosseum soon after sunset. 7 Dec. 2021.

We are very happy to share with you two different passes of the ISS above the Flavian Amphitheatre, observed on 6 and 7 Dec. 2021, respectively. The former was simply a record one, with the ISS reaching the zenith EXACTLY overhead from the Colosseum; the latter happened at twilight, while the sky was still significantly bright.

We hope that these precious sights will bring to you amazement and wonder, being aware of our past, our present and our future, supported by the immortal beauty we see all around us.

This event was organized by the  Parco archeologico del Colosseo and the Virtual Telescope Project.

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