WinOrbit: Satellite Tracking

Welcome to the WinOrbit Home Page, offering free software and other information for the satellite enthusiast.

This page is devoted to satellite orbit prediction, tracking, and radio communication, with emphasis on low-cost and educational approaches for the do-it-yourselfer or hobbyist.

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Additional pages at this web site contain:

I have tried to avoid fancy graphics on most pages, to speed up your download times.

What are Satellite Orbital Prediction, and Satellite Tracking?

Orbital prediction is determining where a particular object will be at a particular time (past, present or future). This can be done with a general mathematical description of the motion of the satellite (in other words, some equations), and some parameters specific to a particular satellite. The parameters essentially describe a position at a particular point in time (called the epoch), as well as the speed and direction of the object at that time. The most common parameter set is called the Keplerian Elements.

Satellite tracking is aiming your binoculars, telescope, or radio antenna (beam or dish) at the predicted location of the satellite, and then following its predicted motion. Depending on the circumstances, this can be an entirely automated procedure, or it can be as simple as looking up at the proper quadrant of the sky at the right time, according to a pre-printed table (called an "ephemeris").

These topics are particularly interesting to amateur radio operators, since there are a number of artificial earth satellites which serve as radio relay stations for "hams". TVRO enthusiasts may also be interested in expanding their knowledge beyond the geostationary satellites (which are particularly easy to track since they don't appear to move). Others may be interested in visually observing the space station Mir, the space shuttle, or other objects. Some satellites can also be heard on simple scanner radios, and interesting information including pictures of the earth from weather satellites can be decoded from their transmissions.

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What is WinOrbit ?

WinOrbit is a free software package for Microsoft Windows (3.1 or later), which will compute and display the position of artificial earth satellites. This is a program I wrote as a hobby, in order to learn more about satellite orbits and tracking (and programming), but which I thought might also be useful to others.
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Hits on the home page since 28 March 1996. Historical statistics
Please send any comments to Carl Gregory (K8CG)
Last Revised: 10 November 1997.

Thanks to Jean-Phillipe Donnio and SAT-NET for this home page space, which is made possible by sponsors such as: