Have you ever seen a blinking light slowly moving across the night sky? No, it wasn’t a star – it was a satellite! A satellite is an object, natural or human-made, that orbits a planet. The moon is Earth’s only natural satellite. Artificial satellites are launched into orbit to help us back on Earth, whether to study space, predict the weather, transfer long distance phone calls, or support our navigation systems. 

World Space Week, October 4-10, celebrated global contributions to space science and technology for the betterment of the human condition. Founded by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999, the international holiday has been celebrated by more than 95 countries around the globe. This year’s theme, “Satellites Improve Life,” celebrates how artificial satellites help humanity. 

How to observe satellites

Without satellites, a lot of the modern technology we enjoy today wouldn’t be possible. The first artificial satellite, Sputnik, was launched in 1957. Today, here are about 2,666 artificial satellites orbiting Earth! You’ve probably already heard of the world’s most famous satellite, the International Space Station, a giant space laboratory where astronauts live and work year-round. 

It’s easy to spot a satellite in the night sky, and you don’t need binoculars or telescopes to do so. In the early evening, just after sunset, go outside. Turn off any outside lights. Look at the stars. Are any of them moving or blinking? They’re probably satellites! If you want to know which satellites you are looking at, the World Space Week website contains a number of apps you can download that will help you identify them. 

Get Lost in Space! Teach students how to use logic skills to bundle commands and create algorithms with this fun game! Visit IEEE TryEngineering today to access it.