Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Satellites Above - What's Up?

Satellite Orbits
Courtesy Suntrek.org

I've received numerous emails from people all over, who think they may have seen a satellite in orbit.  Well, what is a satellite?  A satellite is an object that orbits (revolves) around another object.  Our moon is a natural satellite.  Objects put into orbit around our planet (and others) by human endeavors, are called artificial satellites.

Some satellites can be see with the naked eye, by observers on the ground. These are generally low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, while other satellites orbit too far out from our planet to be visible without a powerful telescope.

With today's technology, anyone can track most of the satellites in orbit around Earth.  For those of you attached to your mobile phones, there's an app for that.

Meanwhile, here is some useful information on satellites, which I hope will increase your star-gazing pleasure. -SW

Suntrek- "What do satellites do?"

Geostationary Orbit (GEO)
These satellites are in orbit above the Earth's equator. They stay above the same location on Earth. They are used for telecommunications, television transmission and for navigation.

Low Earth orbit (LEO)
A satellite has a Low Earth Orbit when it orbits somewhere between 300 and 800 km above the Earth's surface. These satellites only take about 90 minutes to go around the Earth. They are ideal for making observations of the Earth's resources.

Polar Orbits
A polar orbit is a special LEO in which a satellite travels north-south over the Earth's poles, rather than in the more usual east-west direction. Polar orbits can be used to map the complete Earth once a day. This is needed for weather forecasts.

Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites
This is a fleet of satellites which allows us to know exactly where on Earth we are.


NASA- What is a satellite

Satellite- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (a must read)

Visual Satellite Observer's Home Page

REAL TIME SATELLITE TRACKING (Track satellites & ISS live on your computer)

List of Earth observation satellites

The Ten Most Important Satellites Orbiting Earth Now

Apps (Some are free, some are not)
GoSatWatch - Satellite Tracking for iPhone, iPad or iPod touch

3D Satellite Tracker for Android

Satellite AR


Miscellaneous Apps listed on HobbySpace.com


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