Space objects
July 5, 2007 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Real time satellite tracking - another interesting use of Google Maps, Ajax, and orbital telemetry.
posted by Burhanistan (10 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I always wonder if the distant bright pinpoint I can see on some nights is the ISS or a high-flying plane; this'll help me look for it. Nice link!
posted by maus at 9:46 PM on July 5, 2007

maus, it could be any number of satellites rather than the ISS. Some clear nights you might see upwards of a dozen. Many satellites seem to be tracked on this site as well.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:51 PM on July 5, 2007

Dang, that thing is traveling at over 7 km/s. That's like running a marathon in 3.5 seconds!
posted by parallax7d at 10:06 PM on July 5, 2007

Just a nit from someone who works with space objects at work: I doubt they are using telemetry (i.e. communication from the satellite saying where it is) because that would be a huge hassle and pretty pointless. They are probably propagating element sets, which are in a standard format and publicly available for most objects.

But then again, the page author seems to be a ham enthusiast, so maybe he did it the hard way.
posted by DU at 4:19 AM on July 6, 2007

Here's the Space Station viewing page. You enter your location, and it tells you when the station will be visible.

Look for passes that are at least 40 degrees up in the sky. Negative numbers in the Mag (magnitute) column indicate a very bright view. It periodically changes from being visible in the morning to visible in the evening.

The satellite moves at about the speed of an airliner in the sky, and is easy to see even in bright city lights. Often, it passes into the Earth's shadow, so it fades to red, and then disappears. It can be over 1000 miles away, and still visible. The sky chart gives all the details.

Also, see
posted by jjj606 at 5:01 AM on July 6, 2007

DU: He uses the elements. Says so on the page.
posted by dmd at 6:09 AM on July 6, 2007

I searched and searched and couldn't find it. Still can't, but I definitely believe it. I wish I'd thought of this.

Maybe I could do the same thing but then output the result to my should-be-arriving-in-the-mail-today Arduino to control my telescope so I can view it automatically!
posted by DU at 6:21 AM on July 6, 2007

Oh noes! Now the turraists is gonna be able target and take out our satellites.
posted by HyperBlue at 7:36 AM on July 6, 2007

DU: yes, it probably does use elements. I had little knowledge of this so I just casually threw the word telemetry up there since I didn't know any better (and it sounded neat). This site, which also uses elements, gives a kind of reverse perspective than the one I linked in the post.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:02 PM on July 7, 2007



I miss my DSCS III days. 29Y1CL.
posted by MapGuy at 6:49 PM on July 8, 2007

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