For those of you interested in a free software program to aid in tracking satellites, you might
try Stellarium. It is designed as an astronomical program but does have satellite tracking functions built into the
To get started go to www.stellarium.org and download the program (for most of you the 32 bit windows program will work just fine). Once you have the program
downloaded, click on the icon. The program will open and you will see a field with a couple of buildings and some trees
and grassland. This layout is not meant to show any particular site, but is just used as a demonstration aid.
Next, move your cursor to the left middle of the screen and a window will open up with several icons. Click on
the star icon at the top of the list and another window will open up and allow you to put the latitude and longitude
information for your location. Without a correct lat and long this program will be of little use to you. (to convert
your address to lat and long go to: http://stevemorse.org/jcal/latlon.php and you can find your lat and long for your address). After entering the proper lat and long, click on the date/time
icon which is just below the address icon and put the correct date and time if it is incorrect. After you have done
these two actions, then close and reopen stellarium by placing your cursor at the bottom right of your screen and another
set of icons will open up. Place your cursor on the right icon (a square with a circle and line in its center) and
click once and stellarium will close.
Reopen stellarium and you will see the field again. If you open the
program at night you will see a bunch of drawings of constellation art. Put your cursor on the bottom of the screen,
a window will open and you will see several icons illuminated. Place your icon on the illuminated icons until you find
the one labelled constellation art, left click on it and the pictures will disappear. Next, place your cursor on all
illuminated icons until you find the one labelled deep sky objects, and then left click on this icon to turn off all the deep
Now, place your cursor on the other icons, both illuminated and not until you find the one labelled
satellite hints. Left click on it and the program will show all satellites in the sky at the time you click on the icon.
If you place your cursor on a satellite icon and left click on it you will be given all available data on the satellite.
This is a steerable program, which means you can scan around 360 degrees and see everything in the sky. To scan, simply
place your cursor anywhere on the screen, hold down the left mouse button and move the mouse controller and you will see the
screen move in any direction you desire.
This is a very good program and very forgiving. Please download the program
and test it until you are comfortable using it. It is extremely flexible and should be a valuable addition to your programming.