Astronomy Montage

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tracking ISS Flybys using Web 2.0 Mashup Twisst

In order to use this service, you will need a Twitter account

Twisst
is a mashup, combining several data sources to send out the ISS alerts. Here's an explanation of how it all works.

  1. First, Twisst asks Twitter.com which twitter users are following the @twisst account and what location these people have entered in their Twitter profile.
  2. Next, these locations are ‘geocoded’. This means Twisst tries to find out what the geographic coordinates are for each location. Google Maps is used for this, or, when Google can't figure out the right coordinates, Yahoo.
  3. When coordinates are found for the Twitter user, Twisst goes to the website www.heavens-above.com to see when ISS will fly over at those coordinates.
  4. To find out what the local time is for the @twisst follower, Twisst asks the geographic database Geonames in which time zone the location is.
  5. So, every time the International Space Station is coming, Twisst sends the follower an alert throught Twitter. It announces when ISS will pass, at the users local time. Also Twisst tells whether it is a remarkable nice one or not - so how bright and how high the space station will be on that pass.