Space photo app 'spelfie' lets you attend President-elect Biden's inauguration virtually

The space-photo app spelfie will allow users to “attend” the Jan. 20, 2021, inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, thanks to optimized satellite imagery.
The space-photo app spelfie will allow users to “attend” the Jan. 20, 2021, inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, thanks to optimized satellite imagery. (Image credit: spelfie)

You can put yourself on the scene virtually for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday (Jan. 20), thanks to the space photo app spelfie.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will officially take the reins of government Wednesday during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. That ceremony will be sparsely attended this year, thanks to social-distancing measures compelled by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Scotland-based spelfie will allow you to be there in spirit, however. The app will integrate real-time photos of the inauguration taken from 430 miles (690 kilometers) up by Airbus-built Earth-observation satellites, optimizing them for social sharing by users.

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“Everyone in the world will be able to be in the room where it happens, despite being in their living rooms," spelfie founder Chris Newlands said in a statement. 

"They will receive their selfie alongside (real-time) satellite imagery as it appears from space with an 'astronaut's-eye view' of the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument toward the Capitol building, where the inaugural ceremony will be held, swearing in President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris," Newlands added.

You'll be able to do this gratis: The spelfie team has made the app free for users who wish to participate in the inauguration in this way.

"We know that coronavirus is precluding the large attendances normally afforded to presidential inaugurations," Newlands added. "Therefore, we are offering people a new perspective, and we would love for the 59th inauguration to be the most 'remotely attended' in history."

You can learn more about how to participate at spelfie's website here

The app was designed to give users a new perspective on events and life experiences — satellite views of concerts they attend, for example. But spelfie also has the potential to help make positive change in the world, company representatives have said. 

For example, the first-ever spelfie photo, taken in June 2019, shows a group of people lined up on a beach on the Indonesian island of Bali to form the words "Act Now." The group staged the satellite photo to raise awareness about plastic pollution, a big and growing problem in Indonesia and many other places around the world. 

To find out more on how to virtually attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration with spelfie for free, visit:

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.