Use Mobile Apps to Spot the Space Station and Iridium Flares

The night sky is a busy place! Whether you are a casual skywatcher out walking the dog or sitting on the dock, or an astronomer at the eyepiece, you’re almost guaranteed to see an artificial satellite passing overhead or zipping through your field of view

In this edition of Mobile Astronomy, we’ll look at the apps for identifying satellites, predicting these satellites’ passes, seeing spectacular Iridium flares, and even riding along with the International Space Station!

Satellite flare

Satellite flare, also known as satellite glint, is the visible phenomenon caused by the reflective surfaces of passing satellites (such as antennasSAR or solar panels), reflecting sunlight toward the Earth below and appearing as a brief, bright “flare”.

The Iridium constellation with 66 active telecommunication satellites in low Earth orbit are known to cause the brightest flares of all orbiting satellites.