Predicting Satellites’ Visibility

The orbital parameters of most satellites (the TLE data) are freely available, and we can use them to predict the visibility of the satellites. The following is a very simple Python script to predict the visibility of the ISS for the next few weeks.

Flat-Earthers invented many “explanations” about the visibility of satellites. By studying the satellites’ orbital parameters and how they can be used to predict the visibility of the satellites, we know that flat-Earthers’ claims are just nonsense.

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Satellite Tracking Apps and the Two-Line Element Set Data (TLE)

The orbit of an Earth-orbiting satellite is often described using two-line element set (TLE) data. From the TLE data of a specific satellite, we can determine its position at a certain time.

Flat-Earthers discovered that changing their device’s time will cause satellites’ positions to change in some satellite tracking apps, and they use it as “evidence” of wrongdoing. In reality, these apps work by getting the TLE data from the Internet periodically and then using the data to calculate the satellites’ positions in the app itself. Therefore, these apps depend on the accuracy of the devices’ time.

Unlike what these flat-Earthers imagine, these apps do not work by receiving telemetry data from the satellites in real-time.

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