Re: Prediction Programs

Dave Mullenix (djmullen@facstaff.wisc.edu)
Wed, 03 Jun 1998 20:50:12 -0500

Jason E Felton wrote:
> 
> Hi
>         Are there any programs that make predictions for satellites and
> then draw their path on a starmap?  If so, where do I get them from?
>                         Jason Felton     Andromedus@juno.com

At least three that I know of.  In chronological order, they are
TRAKSAT, SkyMap and SKYSAT, which specializes in Iridiums and Iridium
flares.

Traksat has a fairly crude set of star maps.  They show one quarter of
the sky at a time, aimed North, South, East or West.  Traksat can show a
satellite crawling across the map in real time, though, which is handy
if you have a laptop.  Traksat is also very easy to figure out,
important for someone just starting.

Skymap produces beautiful "near publication quality" star maps.  You can
center the map anywhere and show as much of the sky as you want, from
one degree to the whole sky.  The satellite tracks are plotted over the
star maps and you can set how often you want the time written out, how
often time ticks are printed, etc.  However, you can't do any real time
work with it.  The maps can be printed with a program called PRINTGL.

Traksat, Skymap and PrintGL are at:

http://www.satellite.eu.org/orbsoft.html

under "IBM PC"

SKYSAT is available at:

http://members.aol.com/skysatrj/

My personal preferences: Traksat was the first tracking program I
figured out how to use.  It's still my favorite for non-mapping
applications.  For instance, it's good at showing you everything that
will be going over tonight or generating lots of text files for
"massaging" by external programs.  Mike McCant's Quicksat (available at
http://www.fc.net/~mikem/) is probably used by more people for looking
at everything that's visible all night, but Traksat is an old friend of
mine.  Quicksat is also a bit harder to figure out than Traksat.

For mapping, SkyMap is unsurpassed.  No other program I know of comes
even close to it.  It has a steep learning curve, but it's worth the
time and effort.

I'd advise starting with Traksat, then after you're comfortable with it
and the satellites are showing up where they should be, downloading
Skysat and learning it.

Dave Mullenix