We humans have always loved looking up to the stars, but for a few decades, the night sky hasn't only been populated by natural phenomena. A plethora of satellites are orbiting our planet, and if you know just when to look up, you might even be able to see some flying over your head. Google graphics and computer vision engineer James Darpinian has developed a web app that helps you identify where to look to spot these objects by utilizing Street View and browser notifications as well as weather warnings.
The web app is accessible via James Darpinian's website and is optimized for both mobile and desktop. Once you allow it to access your location, it shows your position on the globe plus a timeline of satellites flying over your position when it's dark. You can click or tap each entry to preview the orbit. A huge button labeled "See where it will appear in your sky" takes you to a dimmed Street View point of view, letting you identify over which building or tree to look for to see the flying object.
Left & Middle: The Earth view of satellites' trajectories. Right: Street View helping you identify where to look to see a satellite.
The Street View display adds another button to notify you when a satellite is overhead, made possible thanks to Chrome's and other browsers' notification support. It even warns you when the weather is bad; I saw a little toast message saying clouds may block my view tonight, with the weather forecast predicting "100% cloudy." The data also includes the International Space Station's position, so you can wave at the astronauts and cosmonauts when it passes by.
The desktop interface looks a little overblown, but it works just as well as the mobile view.
While this is not the only service available for tracking satellites, it's one of the easiest and most intuitive to use, especially thanks to Street View support. Being able to pinpoint exactly where to look is a huge benefit. So, if you'd like to gaze upon the stars tonight with your family or friends, just head to the source link below to set up a reminder. I can confirm the web app works on both Chrome and Firefox on Android and additionally on Safari on my desktop.
- James Darpinian
- Hacker News