The final frontier

When I was rounding up my favourite hacks of Hackday, I can’t believe that I forgot to mention one of the most beautifully elegant mashups I’ve ever seen.

Paul Mison and Candace Partridge, two London-based astronomy geeks, presented their train of thought as follows:

  • Iridium flares are glorious bursts of light produced by reflections on satellites.
  • It’s fun to watch the International Space Station fly over.
  • Both of these events are tracked on the website Heavens Above.
  • There’s no point looking for iridium flares or ISS flybys if the sky is clouded over.
  • Weather information is easily available from, for example, Yahoo’s API.
  • By mashing up satellite information with weather information you can figure out whether it’s worth going outside to look into the sky.

The icing on the cake is the way that the results are broadcast. Instead of going to a website, you just need to sign up to a Twitter account. Now you will be notified whenever there’s a flare or flyby over London and the skies are clear. Pure class!

There’s quite a bit of juicy astronomy data available from NASA. Remember a while back when NASA and Google announced that they would be working together? I wonder if they’ve got some geeky goodness planned.

Jessica speculated a while back about reverse Google Maps. Suppose that when you entered an address, instead of just showing you the top-down view of that point on the planet, you also got to see how the sky would look from that point. Enter a postcode; view the corresponding starmap.

Make it so.

Have you published a response to this? :