Satellites in your pocket (Iridium Flares)

Okay. This one is for freaks only. Or at least for people that know what Iridium Flares are.

You don’t? Take this.

Iridium Flares are moving lights (flares) in the sky that can be observed with the naked eye and are caused by sunlight being reflected by antennas of satellites, in this case those of the Iridium system satellites. Hence the name Iridium Flares. When watched in the night, the brighter ones of these flares will cast your (or indeed anyone else’s) shadow on the ground since they are much brighter than any star in the sky. Still, many people don’t know about them because you have to know where to look and each flare can only be seen for a few seconds. Telling people about Satellite Flares is good fun since some won’t believe it.

Personally, I like to watch Iridium Flares whenever I happen to be at the right place in the right time AND I’m aware of it. If you combine these conditions, you’ll be left with "quite unlikely, eh?"

The problem is not getting predictions. Go to HeavensAbove, get your position and look at the predictions for the next 7 days. Easy.

The problem is memorizing all the stuff. I hope you know when you are where for the next 7 days, because often I don’t. At least not with the precision that is needed for a good flare forecast: You should know your position within 1km. If you happen to know that, good for you. Now go to HeavensAbove and memorize all the predictions for all the positions you will be within the next few days so you know when to look in what direction.

I often wanted a way to carry all the predictions for all my favorite locations around with me so I can view them even if I do not happen to sit in front of my PC. Maybe I even wanted to update them on the run, I’m not sure about that 😉

Enter MobileFlares 🙂

I believe that a lot of people don’t need that application. I wrote it for two reasons nevertheless:

  1. I need it
  2. This is my first Windows Mobile application and therefore a training project

A third, less ego-centric reason is: There are a lot of other Iridium Flare gazers, maybe some of them can use it too.

If you have a Windows Mobile device and want to learn about Iridium Flares ("quite unlikely, eh?"), head over to the project site on CodePlex.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with cloud computing: There is a lot of computing going on at HeavensAbove to predict all these satellites that are flying around above the clouds. He he.