Space station plays Santa's sleigh for kids in UK

Some jingle bells. A little red paint. A team of reindeer ... it'll look just right.

Story highlights

  • British weather service tells parents and kids to look to the sky on Christmas Eve
  • The International Space Station overflew the UK early Thursday evening, making like Santa
  • Britons take to social media: "magic is unreal" ... "my daughter waving"

(CNN)Good boys and girls -- and their kids -- watched Santa's sleigh (better known to grownups as the International Space Station) fly over the United Kingdom on Christmas Eve, thanks in part to a timely tip from the nation's weather service.

"As excited children everywhere wait with anticipation for Father Christmas, why not take a look up into the night sky on Christmas Eve and see if you can spot him, (or rather, the ISS)," the Met Office wrote in a statement on their website days before Thursday's much-anticipated appearance.
    The weather service said earlier this week that children looking up at the sky would be thrilled to see the bright light of the space station as St. Nick himself speeding past on his journey around the world.
    Indeed, they kept their Christmas promise.
    Eager parents took to social media to share the joy of this Christmas miracle, (or, prescheduled orbit, for the Grinches among us) at around 5:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. ET).
    "Took caleb outside to see santa crossin the sky (aka space station) the magic is unreal! @NASA thanks for letting me know #magic #nasa #love," one Mom wrote on Twitter.
    NASA had also posted times and coordinates where Christmas revelers could "spot the station" in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and other cities. The timely flyover was more visible in the south of the country where forecasters predicted clear weather conditions.
    "@spacegovuk @esa @Space_Station a brief viewing tonight. My daughter waving at the ISS shouting "Santa" Merry Christmas to the ISS crew."
    One dad tweeted one small problem to astronaut Tim Peake, one of six crew members currently aboard the station:
    "@mattyjc @astro_timpeake problem with my kids. They're both space station fans.
    Dad: "That's Santa"
    Kids: "Don't be silly, that's Tim in ISS."

    Zero-gravity holiday somersault

    The International Space Station was built in collaboration by 16 countries and has been continuously crewed since 2000, when the first NASA astronauts arrived on an expedition.
    It weighs nearly 1 million pounds and is about the size of a football field. It has as much pressurized living and working space as a Boeing 747 passenger jet. The station circles the Earth every 90 minutes, giving those on board a spectacular sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes.
    Three of the current crew members posted a holiday message on YouTube earlier this month.
    "Christmas is generally a time for friends and families to get together, and although we can't be with our families this year, we will be orbiting the Earth 16 times on Christmas Day and sending all our good wishes to everybody back down on beautiful planet Earth," said Peake, a flight engineer, in the minute-long clip.
    The three astronauts then rolled into a synchronized somersault -- Christmas cheer delivered from zero gravity.