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NASA SkyWatch Help
    NASA SkyWatch Applet
  NASA SkyWatch is divided into 9 Tabs:
 Map | Input | SatInfo | Orbit | Table | SkyLog | SkySearch | Variables | About

NASA SkyWatch is a web based Java application (or applet) that can be used to generate highly accurate acquisition information for an earth orbiting satellite. Each time the satellite appears above the horizon for a specified ground site, NASA SkyWatch will compute such information as range, azimuth, and elevation. Also, NASA SkyWatch will determine if any of the "pass" will be visible. Making a "sighting" of a satellite is great fun and an excellent learning experience for both children and adults.

NASA SkyWatch is primarily an application to determine acquisition information - or when a satellite will be above the horizon at a given place and time. Once the acquisition data has been determined, a sighting is also possible if 4 conditions have been met:

  1. The satellite must be above the horizon
  2. The observer must be in darkness (sun below the observer's horizon)
  3. The satellite must be in sunlight (sun above the satellite's horizon)
  4. The correct side of the satellite must be lit

NASA SkyWatch can be used for any Earth orbiting satellite - not just for the International Space Station. NASA SkyWatch regulary monitors major NASA satellites that may be of interest. Currently, the list of satellites that can be selected include the following:

  • The International Space Station (ISS)
  • The Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor Spacecraft (ACRIMSAT)
  • The Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (ADEOS-II/SeaWinds)
  • The Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere Spacecraft (AIM)
  • The Aqua Spacecraft
  • The Aquarius Spacecraft
  • The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations Spacecraft (CALIPSO)
  • The CloudSat Spacecraft
  • The Earth Observing-1 Spacecraft (EO-1)
  • The Galaxy Evolution Explorer Spacecraft (GALEX)
  • The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Spacecraft (GRACE-1 and GRACE-2)
  • The Hinode Spacecraft
  • The Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
  • The Jason-1 Spacecraft
  • The Jason-2 Spacecraft
  • The LandSat-7 Spacecraft
  • The OrbView-2 Spacecraft (SeaStar)
  • The QuickSCAT Spacecraft
  • The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscope Imager Spacecraft (RHESSI)
  • The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer Spacecraft RXTE
  • The Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment Spacecraft SORCE
  • The Suzaku Spacecraft
  • The Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer Spacecraft
  • The Terra Spacecraft
  • The Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics Spacecraft (TIMED)
  • The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission TRMM

    Every effort has been made to develop NASA SkyWatch as a simple to use yet powerful application to provide highly accurate and detailed information. These help pages are being provided to guide your way through NASA SkyWatch the first few times it is used. You will find that once you learn NASA SkyWatch's input requirements, sighting information is just a few minutes away.

    The NASA SkyWatch input and results are divided into 7 sections - 4 for input and 3 for output. These sections are in the form of "tabs" in the upper left of the user interface. All that is required to jump from section to section is to click on the tab. In these help pages, clicking on the tab will take you to a detailed help page for that particular section. Once inside the detailed help page, clicking on an input or output will display more information about that item.

    System Requirements:

    It is recommended that the user be running a Pentium class (or equivalent) computer system. Slower systems will run NASA SkyWatch but may take considerable more time to complete. The applet is not resolution independent and was developed for resolution of 800x600 on a Windows based computer system. Other resolutions and operating systems will work but some scrolling by the user may be required if less than 800x600. Resolutions greater than 800x600 will also work but may not be readable due the small character size.

    Please note that due to the complexity of this applet, you will need the Microsoft Internet Explorer version 4.0 or later. You can also use Netscape Navigator version 4.06 or later. Macintosh systems require Internet Explorer version 4.5 or later, plus the Macintosh OS Runtime Environment for Java version 2.1 or later. Windows users require the Java version 1.4.2_04. If you need to acquire these browsers, please do so before attempting to run NASA SkyWatch.

  • Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer | Updated: 09/23/2011
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