Thursday, February 7, 2008

Track the positions of satellites in the sky with Orbitron

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Did you ever wanted to know which satellites are over your head at the precise moment? Did you ever wonder where the International Space Station could be right now? Do you want to catch a glimpse of it in the night sky? The answers to all these questions can be found in this wonderful tool called Orbitron.

Orbitron is a satellite tracking system for radio amateur and observing purposes. This software is more than 10 years old and has been used by weather professionals, satellite communication users, astronomers, UFO hobbyist and even astrologers. The best thing about it is it's free.

Orbitron shows the positions of any satellites at any given moment in real or simulated time. It's probably one of the easiest and most powerful satellite trackers, according to opinions of thousands of users from all over the world. At present it can track 20,000 satellites and all of them can be tracked at the same time. It tracks the path of even the sun and the moon. It has a large database of cities around the world so that you can find the precise time and location of any satellites over any place.




Due to predictable conditions of satellite movement in space (lack of atmosphere) computer software can calculate a satellite's position for given moment. Calculations are done based on known orbit parameters determined at epoch. Known orbital parameters like inclination, eccentricity, argument of perigee, mean motion (revolutions per day), etc. Orbital data for each object is grouped, and distributed as a Two Line Element (TLE) file. Orbitron uses these TLE files to track satellite positions.

To keep tracking software working precisely, one should update elements periodically. For low orbiting objects (altitude less than 500 km) TLE data should be updated every few days. For higher orbits, you can update your TLE every few weeks. Other important things include making your predictions as close to real time as possible by using time synchronization, and the precise coordinates of your location. Orbitron periodically keeps updating the TLE files to enable precise tracking.

If you are even a little bit interested in astronomy and physics, then you should download this software. Download Orbitron.

3 comments:

  1. Nice idea...will try it now...:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is an EXCELLENT program!! It is BETTER(IMHO) than all of the tracking programs out there, and is free to boot!!
    Well, Free except for sending Sebastian a postcard from your area.
    None of the available commercial software offers as many options and features.

    my .02 cents worth
    KD0XX

    ReplyDelete
  3. It runs under Win 7 64 bit only with difficulty. At times it will run with no trouble, other times it locks up and has to be restarted.

    Seems to compare in accuracy to STSORBITPLUS. a DOS based program from many years ago.

    There is to be no more support or updates to Orbitron according to the author Sebastian. Too bad, a few tweaks might make it run really well under Win 7.

    ReplyDelete

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