A top astronaut who gained international fame for singing in space is currently on a tour of the island of Ireland.
Commander Chris Hadfield, who until recently served on the International Space Station (ISS), orbiting hundreds of miles above the surface of Earth, is to visit Easons in Belfast and Londonderry, among other destinations.
The former fighter pilot became something of an internet hit when a video appeared showing him performing a version of the David Bowie song Space Oddity.
The footage depicted the Canadian floating about in the ISS with his acoustic guitar, singing while the surface of the Earth spun gently in the distance.
He retired last year.
Yesterday he was in Dublin, where his daughter is a student at Trinity College.
During his visit he was given a Lord Mayor’s Award in recognition of his command of the ISS, and of his “pioneering efforts to bring space exploration to the masses via social media”.
On Thursday he announced via the website Twitter: “Good Morning, Ireland! Happily headed to Dublin and Belfast, hoping to learn a cupla focals” – a slight misspelling of the Irish for “a couple of words”.
His visit is at the invitation of Tourism Ireland, the cross-border tourism agency, and a spokeswoman said they invited him following messages he sent from the ISS on St Patrick’s Day via Twitter, showing Ireland from space – as well as a rendition he gave of Danny Boy.
The agency plans to shoot promotional videos of him at various landmarks north and south of the border, and he is set to come up to Ulster tomorrow for a series of engagements.
He will talk about his space adventures at Armagh Planetarium tomorrow (though this event is now fully booked).
On Monday he will be signing copies of his book “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” from noon to 1pm at Easons at Foyleside, Londonderry, and the following day at Easons in Belfast city centre, from around 4pm to 5pm.