flarkey

Senior Member
Many UFO sightings at night can be explained by Satellites, particularly the bright ones such as the ISS. Some websites such as Heavens-Above.com use a very text based interface which can be difficult to use making it hard to find satellite passes that match the observation. The website www.in-the-sky.org offers a graphical method of searching historical satellite passes. In my experience it offers a better way of determining which man-made orbital objects can explain UFO sightings.

Instructions for use
You first have to set the sighting location & time zone, this can be done by town name or lat long coordinates. Click on the change location button on the homepage to do this.

loc. GIF.GIF

Once this is done, click on the Spacecraft and then Planetarium of Satellites . You can then set the date and time to show the satellites in the sky for that location. The sky map can be scrolled and zoomed, and the database of satellites shown (eg GPS, Starlink, Bright, Geostationary) can be filtered at the bottom of the page.

planetarium.GIF

There's also a Satellites in your sky view that looks like a radar screen, like this, for any date and time. You can also search for bright satellite passes for any location/date/time combination.

sky.GIF

Hope that helps.
 

jplaza

Member
Celestrak is another good tool.
http://celestrak.com/

But in any case, independently of the tool, take into account that the Two Line Elements (TLE) that are used to calculate the orbits are updated regularly, so depending on the date you should use the older TLE, closest to the sighting date.
 

flarkey

Senior Member
But in any case, independently of the tool, take into account that the Two Line Elements (TLE) that are used to calculate the orbits are updated regularly, so depending on the date you should use the older TLE, closest to the sighting date.

One of the reasons I like in-the-sky.org is that it does this automatically. No need to worry about getting the right TLE file.
 
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