Artificial Earth Satellites

Star Walk
3 min readAug 24, 2020

When you hear about space, what comes to your mind? Constellations, planets, deep space, black holes. But what about human-made objects in space? In this article, we will tell you what other space objects deserve attention, how to observe them daily, and why it is useful to study astronomy.

Space exploration has started from the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite named Sputnik 1. The first living beings who performed an orbital flight and safely returned home (spoiler alert — not Yuri Gagarin), the first moon landing, the International Space Station launch, Mars exploration — these are the examples of the most well-known space projects. The work on space studies continues nowadays.

What is an Earth satellite?

An Earth satellite, also called an artificial satellite, is an artificial object launched into temporary or permanent orbit around the Earth. The areas of its activity are various:

  • Exploration of other planets;
  • Conduction of scientific experiments;
  • Climate control (weather, natural disasters);
  • Providing communication on the Earth and more.

Artificial satellites are primarily needed for scientific research and technological progress. But for those who enjoy stargazing, they are also worthy.

The largest and brightest human-made object in orbit is the International Space Station. It’s a multitasking space complex. The ISS can shine as vividly as Venus, with an apparent magnitude of -4.5, which is 16 times more intense than the brightest star Sirius.

Satellites may flash brightly due to the “sunbeams” effect when the Sun’s rays reflect off their panels. The first generation of Iridium communications satellites had antennas that transmitted data to the Earth. When the antennas reflected sunlight onto the Earth’s surface, an observer could see them shining at a magnitude -8 in the sky, which is 30 times brighter than the maximum brightness of Venus.

How do I track satellites?

You can track satellites easily with the Satellite Tracker app. The app has received a massive update within the Back to School campaign, and now it’s even more convenient. For easy search, the satellites are divided according to their missions — Communications, Navigation, Scientific, Weather & Earth Resources. There is also a Special-Interest category that includes the Last 30 days’ launches, the Space Stations, the Brightest satellites, and the debris of crashed ones.

The updated Satellite Tracker gives you access to the full satellite database. You can make a list of all tracked satellites, so they will always be displayed on the map, and a timer will show how much time is left until the next pass. In order not to miss them in the sky above you, use the convenient notification system and set up multiple reminders. Besides, a list of all passes, not only visible ones, and a graph of the satellite’s height above the horizon are also available now.

Observing satellites in the sky is not easy. They fly over us in the morning and in the evening, but even the dark time doesn’t guarantee perfect visibility — the Earth’s shadow may hide satellites.

Why study astronomy?

If you are wondering why you need all this information when you simply enjoy stargazing, here is our answer. Astronomy is developing day by day, as can be judged by the number of satellites launched into orbit every month. In many countries, astronomy isn’t included in the school curriculum. Still, there are many arguments in favor of a compulsory study:

  • Astronomy uses other sciences, like physics and geology, so it will help you broaden your knowledge of these fields.
  • It trains you to follow schedule and self-discipline: to avoid missing a phenomenon that occurs once every 7000 years, you have to keep track of time.
  • It teaches different skills that are useful in life, like navigation by the stars.
  • It helps to study the climate, its changes on Earth. Due to this, starting from school, children will be aware of the man’s influence on our planet.

Satellite Tracker was updated for the school year’s beginning as part of the Back to School campaign, to provide people with knowledge about space and the human contribution to this world.

Stay tuned, study astronomy, and keep up with the latest news!



Star Walk

Point your device at the sky and see what stars, constellations, and satellites you are looking at 🌌✨