How to track Satellites using WinOrbit

If you want to work satellites, will need to know where they are located in the sky. That is what the Satellite Tracking Software does for you. There are several nice ones, I just happen to use WinOrbit. Also its free! WinOrbit is a good program, but takes a little time getting used to it, and learning the terms.

To download your own copy, click here.


There is a Y2K bug in WinOrbit versions 3.5 and earlier. If you have one of these versions, please use the link above, and download the latest version.

-- Mike

A couple of pointers to start out.

  • Make sure your computer system's time is correct.
  • Make sure you have the correct offset between UTC and your Time Zone (Setup | Time Zone).
  • Keep your Orbital Elements up to date.

Orbital Elements

Often times called "Keplerian Elements". These are a series of numbers that define to the many tracking programs the characteristics of a spacecraft's orbit. They come in two formats. NASA format, and AMSAT format. They are nothing more than an agreed way the file is laid out. Personally I prefer the NASA format. For more details on what all of the numbers mean, check out WinOrbit's help file. These should be updated once a week. On AMSAT's web page you can sign up for them to e-mail them to you weekly.

To update WinOrbit's database with the latest data, here is what you do:

  1. In WinOrbit, go to Setup then Misc. Settings.
  2. Make sure the box labeled Enable Automatic Updating is checked.
  3. Get the latest Element Set.
    1. Connect to AMSAT.
    2. Save this to KEPS.KEP in the WINORBIT\KEPS folder.
  4. Start WinOrbit. It will automatically update the elements.

Enter Your Latitude/Longitude

If you don't know your Latitude/Longitude, click here. Click on setup then Observer/QTH. A dialog box will pop up where you can enter your latitude, longitude, and elevation in meters. When the data is entered, click on append, and close down the window.

Now you are ready to go.