Satellites on Google Earth

UPDATE: New Google Earth tracking files for Space Telescopes are now up.

Hot on the heels of putting all the SCUBA data onto Google Sky, I am now sharing some Google Earth goodies. The KML files below will allow you to view the location of any satellite on Google Earth with latitude, longitude and altitude positions updated every 30 seconds.


These Google Earth overlays use the NORAD two-line element (TLE) datasets that are published via the Celestrak website and are used by satellite enthusiasts the world over. I could not find them for Google Earth so have made them available myself.

There are three files that can be downloaded:

1) ISS Locator – A simple file that just tracks the position of the most popular and asked after satellite, the manned International Space Station. Shows the next 2 hours of flight path and the approximate size of the viewing horizon of the ISS (i.e. the area of the Earth’s surface for which the ISS is potentially visible).

2) 100 Brightest Objects – This file uses Celestrak’s 100 or so brightest objects TLE file to show the locations on Google Earth of between 100-200 of the better known and easier to spot satellites.

3) Advanced Tracker – By default this KML file tracks the ISS from the 100 file above. However it allows you to change the source TLE and satellite ID to any that you like, thus making it the first Google Earth addition that allows you to track any satellite at all! Instructions are found in the file by clicking its name in Google Earth. This layer also shows the viewing horizon and 2 hour flight path.


Download ISS Locator, 100 Brightest Objects and Advanced Tracker.

Download All three files together in a zipped archive.


2 thoughts on “Satellites on Google Earth

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  1. Hi. I can not download any of your scripts. Whenever I click on the above scripts and new tab open and I gets the following error: “404 Whoa…you broke the Internet! “.

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