I have a Celestron 8" telescope with a tripod equatorial mount and some accessories. It takes quite a while to get proper polar alignment, but once you do it is very easy to point it at any object for which you know the declination and right ascension. Although the newer digital setting circles will work without polar alignment, there is image rotation that limits the exposure time for astrophotraghpy. I have seen image de-rotators that fix this problem, but still piggyback astrophotography needs the equatorial mount, that's why I have included a web reference for Astro Pier, to make it easier to use the equatorial mount.
Depending on what you are doing there are different ways to look at the night sky: your eyes, binoculars, telescope or scope with CCD and starting in 2001 or 2002 using a very sensitive TV camera.
What you can seeThere is a world of difference between what you can see with your eye's and what can be seen using photography.
Your eyes and brain can see details that are very difficult to capture using photography because the "seeing" (Wiki) will degrade the photograph. The larger the telescope objective the poorer the details captured in a photograph whereas for objectives below 12" this is less of a problem.
A photograph can see faint objects that your eye can never see. The larger the objective the better for photographing faint objects. You will see colorful photos of clusters, nebula, &Etc that you can never see with your eyes.
Determining Brightness using the Magnitude System -
Estimating Limiting Magnitude - using star countingAs a rough guide a decent 50mm pair of binoculars will take you from the naked eye limit of around mag. +6, to about mag. +10 (in suitable skies).
A six or eight inch reflector telescope will stretch this further to around mag. +14. "...Magnitude +1 stars are defined as being exactly 100 times brighter than magnitude +6 stars. At one extreme, the bright Sun is magnitude -27. At the other extreme, some of the faintest observed stars are about magnitude +24. The full moon is magnitude -12.5. Sirius, the brightest star in the nighttime sky, is magnitude -1.5, while the faintest stars visible to the naked eye under good conditions are about magnitude +6." (from Introduction to Visual Satellite Observing ) Satellites are about -0.2 to 11.8 in magnitude.
"all about Telescopes" by Sam Brown (Edmond Scientific) 1979 - Telescope Performance - Star Mag, Resolution, vs. Obj Dia. Table of image dia. These figures are based on what the human eye can see, not on what can be done using a CCD or TV camera as the imaging device.
OrganizationsAmerican Astronomical Society - is the major professional organization for astronomers and other scientists and individuals interested in astronomy.
American Astronomy Clubs - also other countries
American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) -
American Association of Amateur Astronomers - Constellation page with M objects, large links page & much much more
Astronomical Calculations for the Amateur -
Astronomical Society of The Pacific -
Australian Skeptics - Links -
Bradford Robotic Telescope- http://www.telescope.org/ - Has enough smarts to work without any human interaction - has it's own weather station - other automated socpes
British Astronomical Association -
Continous Camera Net (concam)- Fisheye lens on from Dusk till dawn with archive of images
Dutch Occultation Association - mostly Lunar, with software
Educational Observatory by Sam Wormley
Exploratorium - Astronomy -
FAQ: Searching for an astronomy club near you -
Gamma Ray Bursters by Greg Goebel - Greg Goebel's Vectors -
Global Network of Astronomical Telescopes (GNAT) -http://www.gnat.org - These folks are interested in creating a network of identical (thus easily group-maintained) small automated telescopes - Standardized Design Parameters for a NGT One Meter Telescope -1/2 meter by SciTech Astronomical Research http://www.foothill.net/%7Estar/ - 1 meter GNAT -
Grove Creek Observatory -
Hanna City Robotic Observatory - Details on how Jerry Gunn built this Obs
High Degree Helioseismology Network - Global Oscillation Network Group -
International Astronomical Union - THE astro org
International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) - Information on cutting down light polution - data on good and bad fixtures - General Links -
International Meteor Organization -
International Occultation Timing Association - Master Index and Information Site for Lunar Occultations & Grazes IOTA - IOTA Member Site -
Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy -
JPL - Space Calendar -
Leonid meteors - images
Millstone Hill Observatory - Optical Facility -
Motorize Your Telescope: altazimuth and equatorial mounts...by Mel Bartels - nice page with parts and a lot of links
Mount Wilson Observatory -24/7 Web Cam on 150' Solar tower updates each 4 minutes
NASA - Sky View virtual multi wavelength telescope (gamma ray, hard X-ray, soft X-ray, EUV, UV, Optical, IR, Radio)
National Space Society - for manned missions
News Groups: Go To sci.astro.amateur & sci.astro.ccd-imaging & sci.astro.research
North American Small Telescope Cooperative - The purpose of NASTeC is to bring to the attention of the general astronomical community the distribution and availability of small-to-intermediate size research telescopes and associated equipment through a voluntary information listing
Planetary Society - for robotic missions
NTO Nuevas Technology Observacionales- WhatUSee - Java Field Of View calculator
Society for Popular Astronomy - English Astro club
Old Royal Observatory and Planetarium -Royal Astronomical Society - Closing 31 Oct. 1998
Home Page of Paul Schlyter - precision positions of the planets & Photometry/radiometry and astronomy -
Pocono Mountain Optics - Star Bound Viewing Chair & carries a large number of product lines
Rigel - U of Iowa & Torus - done 2002, 14.5" turn key automated scope including the dome @AT&WB w/extensive description
Robert Ferguson Observatory - Sonoma County, CA
Role of Small Telescopes in Modern Astronomy - I think small means <= 1 meter
Sloan Digital Sky Survey - around Sep 200 check at Microsoft for their SkyServer data base
Society For Amateur Scientists - Amateur Science Groups -
Stanford - Astronomy -
Stellafane - major exibition
TAC - San Francisco area club
The Astronomical Unit by Stephen Tonkin - FAQ, and a lot of general astronomy info + 5" scope web ring
Univ California Berkeley Astronomy Department -
Univ. of Tokyo - Cosmology -
USNO - Astronomical Applications- Software Products- MICA - Multiyear Interactive Computer Almanac - Data Services - Rise/Set/Transit Times for Major Solar System Objects and Bright Stars <- includes Vega (for my Stellar Time Keeping idea)
PublicationsAmateur Astronomy Magazine -
AstroLinks - organized links
Astronomy & Astrophotography by Gary Holland - http://email@example.com/
Astronomy Magazine -
Astronomy Net - just starting 8/8/99
Astronomy Now - in the UK just starting 8/8/99
Astrophotography for the Amateur by Michael A. Covington Mostly film but some CCD information, includes AZ-EL field rotation calcs
Approximate Astronomical Positions -
Bad Astronomy - many examples from TV, movies, news, etc.
Cameras for Astrophotography - discussion of features and a list of bodies
CCD Astronomy - part of S&T stopped publication but has web articles - Charge Coupled Device (TV camera) Astronomy
Dave's Astronomy Magazine - mount reviews
FAQ Buying a Telescope - s.a.a FAQ
Florida Today - Space -
History of Astronomy - at Univ of Bonn
LiveSky.com - many links
NASA.ftp ftp://adc.gsfc.nasa.gov/ - NGC2000 ftp://adc.gsfc.nasa.gov/pub/adc/archives/catalogs/7/7118/ - BSC5P - Bright Star Catalog
Sky & Telescope- Excellent magazine & web page
Sky Publications - a number of on line articles of general interest - Deep-Sky Planner -
Star Gazer - TV show
Sun Gun by Bruce Hegerberg - PVC pipe based lolar viewing
Telescope Review Web Site by Ed Ting
William Bell - Publishers & Booksellers
VendorsAdvanced Telescope Systems - Portable and fixed piers and related accessories
Aeroquest Machining - Worm gears - focuser-guider - knife edge focus
Agilent - E1710A Angle encoder - 0.0033 arc seconds resolution & they have a 360 deg scale
Aim Controls (formerly Quadrent Engineering Inc) -
Anssen Technologies - Mounts - drive controllers
AOKswiss · Astrooptics Kohler - Swiss dealer - WAM series of mounts to 100 kg scope weight
Apogee Instruments, Inc. - CCD cameras
APM Markus Ludes - Intes and other scope distributor in Germany
Ash Manufacturing Company - observatory domes and tracking instrument shelters.
Astro Arts - Image Processing Software - Many well arranged links to Sites in Japan -
Astro Domes - 3,4.5 & 6 meter dia spherical domes
Astro Optik - Cassegrains und RC-Systeme -
Astro-Physics - Model 1200 GOTO mount - at Company Seven -
Astro Pier - Fixed mounting for telescopes - I need to find a location here in the woods first
Astro Works Corporation - high end amateur scopes - Centurion 18" F/2.8
Astromart - classifieds, auction, surplus, etc.
Astrometric Instruments, Inc. - Telescope Control Systems - GOTO for Losmandy G11
Astronomy Mall -
Astronomy Net - forums, classifieds, ect.
Astronomy Software - one line comment on many many programs
AstroSystems - TeleKit Truss Tube Alt-Azimuth -
AWR Technology -Intelligent Handset Drive System - Timekeeping Products -
Axiom Research, Inc. - MIRA 5.0 image processing software
Beacon Hill Telescopes -http://www.beaconhilltelescopes.mcmail.com/ Worm and Wheel Sets -3.5" to 14"
B & K Products - focusig attachment for OM-1 camera
Byers, Edward - retired - worm gears - Patents -US05327062 07/05/1994 Precision drive assembly for telescopes and other instrumentsCelestron - major scope & bino manufacturer - Fastar system (replace secondary mirror with SBIG St237 CCD camera, no other works as well)
US04671130 06/09/1987 Drive assembly for astronomical telescope
US04541294 09/17/1985 Drive assembly for an astronomical telescope
US04400066 08/23/1983 Mounting and precision drive system for astronomical telescope, and the like
Clear Night Products - Portable observatories
COAA Telescope Controller - for Vixen Super-Polaris, Grand-Polaris, or similar German equatorial mount
Company Seven - Telescopes - Accessories -
COMSOFT - software products, a control system called PC-TCS™ for equatorial mounted telescopes and SATPRO™ - an earth orbiting satellite tracking program which can be used in conjunction with PC-TCS™ to accurately track earth orbiting targets.
Cookbook CCD Camera Home Page - info on building & using your own CCD camera
Ceravolo Optical Systems - Dual Configuration Astrograph
Clear Night Products - TeleDome - dew caps
Cutler of New England - replica antique
Dark Site Domes - 800 526-3887
Day Star Filters - high end solar filters
DC-3 Dreams - LX-200 Astronomer's Control Panel - "hub" software to combine scope control, star map, nights targets, etc.
DG Optical - 6490 Lemon Street, E. Petersburg, PA 17520, Tel: (717) 560-1519 Fax: (717) 581-9015
Deepsky 2000 - Observation planning software
Denver Observer's Seat - on line plans Google plans & modifications
Deutsche Optik - new and historical optics from the world's finest optical houses
DFM Engineering, Inc. - computer controlled astronomical telescopes and instruments.
DGM Optics - Innovative off-axis Newtonians
Eagle Optics - dealer
Edmund Scientific Company -
EOS Technologies, Inc. - EOST - .75m to 2m telescopes for astronomy, satellite laser ranging an optical communication.
Europtik, Ltd. - P.O. Box 319, Dunmore, PA 18509, Tel: (717) 347-6049 Fax: (717) 969-4330
Excelsior Optics - 10" Newtonian OTA
F.C. Meichsner Company - dealer but frames web page with many broken links
Front Gate - German-engineered Stool provides posture-perfect comfort for ironing -
Gemini - G41 Mount with about 3" PE (without using any PEC)!
Guan Sheng Optical Co., Ltd. - telescope manufacturer in Taiwan
Halfmann Teleskoptechnik - 0.3 meter and up systems
Hands on Optics - dealer
Helios 1 is a 70mm scope with dedicated H-alpha filter by Coronado Instruments
International Optics Ltd. -
Internet Telescope Exchange (ITE) -ZEOS Off-Axis Parabolic Reflector Telescope Systems -
INTES Mk-67 - Russian 6" to 9" Maksutov Cassegrain
Jim's Mobile, Inc. (JMI) -Manufacturing Advanced Telescope Products Next Generation Computer (DSC kits) & laptop star display SGT (BBox) NGT-12.5" and NGT-18" f4.5 equatorial Newtonian
JML Optical Industries, Inc.- multi element lens systems, shutters, simple lens, mirror, test targets, etc.
Laser Collimator by Howie Glatter
Lasermax, Inc. - collimators
Land,Sea & Sky Inc.- Takahashi & binocs - including the BRC-250 (Baker Ritchie-Chretien) - BRC-250@ATWB (nice photos)
Lichtenknecker Optics N.V. - VAF 150/1050 Apochromatic Refractor - @ AOK -
Losmandy - -G-11 Mount, Digital Setting Circles User's Manual - G-11 Tuning - GoTo G-11 -
Lumicon - hypered film and astrophotography supplies & more
MaestroniX, Inc. -Eureka 2001 telescope control (418) 681-6567 Ste-Foy, Quebec G1N 4L6 http://www.maestronix.com/
Mag 1 Instruments - PortaBall Telescopes
mailing lists for physics and astronomy -
Meade - LX200 computerized scope that works with some sat tracking software
Meteorites, Inc. -
Meade Advanced Products Users Group (MAPUG.com) - Milburn Wedge & Mounting Rings - for Meade LX-200 scopes
Minor Planet Observer - scripting language for LX200 & ST7/8
Monoptec - Fixed Shutter Dome - Electro Optic Systems Pty Limited makes small windowed domes
MURNAGHAN Instruments Corp.- Flip Mirror, Coulter Optical dobs, CCD filters and accesories
Micro-Guider III - A Telescope to Computer Interface Device You Can Build BBox encoders to RS-232
Mountain Instruments - Mathis MI-250 German Mount -
Nelson Devices http://www.nelsondevices.com/ - Quick Connect device for Meade and Celestron
Nova Astronomics - Micro-Guider a telescope to computer interface & Earth Centered Universe software
Nova Optical Systems @ Astronomy Mall - mirrors
Novosibirsk Instrument-Making Plant - Russian TAL 2.5" to 8" Telescopes, Binocs, Night Vision
ObservaDome Laboratories, Inc. - Observatory Domes, Missile Tracking, and Laser Ranging Shelters.
Obsession Telescope - Premium open truss Dobsonians
Ocean Optics - Fiber Optic Spectrometers - S2000 High-sensitivity Fiber Optic Spectrometer used in the Rigel project at U of Iowa
O'Neil Photo & Optical Inc. -
Optical Guidance Systems -telescopes & mounts
Orion Telescopes & Binoculars - Watsonville, Cupertino & S.F. stores + on line catalog
Ouranos instrument- A low price PC-to-telescope interface - has BBox protocal commands table
Parallax Instruments - Makers of Astronomical Telescopes and Equatorial Mountings - Parallax's Astro-Physics GTO computer drive system -
Parks Co. -
Photon Instrument, Ltd. - repair, restore, modernize, computerize, modify etc.
Pocono - Star Bound Viewing Chair - Fujinon binocs -
QSP Optical Technology Inc. - coatings and mirror cleaning instructions
Quadrant Engineering, Inc. QEI - controlers for mounts - Worm gears @ 10.1" to 25.24" dia -> now Aim Controls -
Questar - a classical small scope
Rigel Systems - LED based accessories
Santa Barbara Instrument Group - CCD cameras & supplies
San Diego State - profesional CCD system integrator -
SCS Astro - UK dealer
SkyComm Engineering - Digital Setting Circles
Sky Engineering - Sky Commander Digital Setting Circle
SkyMap Software Home Page - includes free demo version - driver for the buggie N5
Sky Scout - 4 fingers point to start to help you find them?
SkyTent - 10' dia portable tent with rotating dome- good reviews see Aug 2000 Astronomy mag
Sky-View 360 -http://www.woodyinc.com/skyview.html - 10' dia x 10' high Observatory
Software Bisque - GT-1000 mount & software
Sovietshi Collection - Giant 15 x 110 Border Guard Observation Binoculars -
Soft-Tec Systems - http://www.soft-tec.com/skyprobe/ - Sky Probe 1000 adds motors and software to existing mount GM-8 & GM-11 Kits
Space Media Store - astronomy software
S.T.A.N.O. Components Inc. - night vision & other military optical
Stargazer Steve - small reflectors
Starlight Express - CCD cameras
Star Instruments - Ritchey-Chretien and Classical Cassegrain optics from 10 to 40 inch
StarMaster Telescopes by Rick Singmaster -
Starsplitter Telescopes - High-quality Newtonians and Dobsonians
StarStep Observing Chair - $99
Stellar Products - Adaptive Optics
Stellarvue - short tube scopes
Shutan - discount house telescopes, cameras, binoculars, etc.
Takahashi - @ Land,Sea & Sky - ATWB - Optical Guidance Systems - Dealer in Japan w/table of model # -yr
Tangent Instruments, 1691 Spinnaker Drive, Suite 202, Ventura, CA 93001 (805)642-3136 contact: Rick McWilliams. Tangent is reported to manufacture the Astro master for Celestron, the LumiconSky Vector and Orion's Sky Wizard. Mountain Instruments Star Pilot. NGC-MAX & Losmandy DSC's - Although it isn't widely known, they will sell to the rest of us.
Sunshine Design Engineering Services - Astronomy Calculator for Windows
TMB Optical - APO scopes & lens , mono eye eyepieces
Taurus Technologies - flip mirror system
TECH2000 - 2-axis Dob system
Technical Innovations, Inc. - Robo-Dome is a small dome for computerized scopes, Home-Dome & Pro-Dome
Tectron Telescopes -
Tele Vue Optics - now links to Astronomy Mall - Choosing Your Telescope's Magnification -4747675 Ultra wide-angle eyepiece - 04747675
4400065 Multi-purpose telescope
Telescope Engineering Company - Telescopes & optical materials
Thousand Oaks Optical - filters
Tianjin Nitsu Optical Products Co., Ltd. - China
Torus Technologies - $ 75k to $ 1,200 k (0.4 to 1.2 meter automated scopes)
Tradewinds Co. - Darksite Dome
Tpoint Software - TPOINT analyses pointing observations to discover and measure misalignments and flexures, which the telescope's control system can then allow for.
Tuthill, Inc. - accessories
Unitron, Inc. - telescopes, microscopes, binoculars
U.S. Digital Corporation - practical motion control components such as absolute optical encoders, incremental optical encoders, inclinometers, tilt sensors, standard & custom encoder disks, displays, qudrature decoder IC's, zero-speed switches, PC-interfaces, standard & custom software, and many other motion control products
Van Slyke Engineering - Multi-Imaging Portals, Bifilar Micrometers with Illuminated Reticles
Vernonscope Co. -
Vixen - makes scopes & binocs, many are relabled for resellers - Improving the CG-5 Equatorial Mount -
Costruzioni Ottiche Zen, S. Polo 1871/A, 30100 VENEZIA - Italy: manufacturer of Baker-Schmidt optics, +39 041 722162 (his home/lab in Venice), +39 0437 521117 (his second home/lab near Belluno -- he's there now), +39 328 2170608 (his cell phone)
ImagesSteve Massey's - Astro Images ... Moon -
Fourmilab - Earth & Moon Viewer -
Google Maps (has satellite imagery and/or overlaid maps) - Google Earth (has aerial survey high quality color images) Fantastic application that runs on your computer.
Home PagesAstro-Nuts Homepage (The Astronomy Beginner's Help Site) -
Astro Tips - links to astro software
Astrophotography Tips By Chris Vedeler
Amateur Radial Velocity Studies - looking for planets outside the Solar system
Amateur Telescope Making - Observatory Plans -
Amateur Astronomical Observatories -
At Home in a Dome -
Better Barn Door - for use with a 35 m camera - see Electronics Now Nov 99 Q&A pg 9 for circuit to cause stepper to turn at 1 RPM
Copy Scope - Copyscope Page - How to Build a Copyscope - copy machine lens based telescope
Dan Stixrud - "Canned Mouse" Encoder page
Deep Space 99 Observatory - Dec bearing replacement on 12" Meade LX-200 & info on TPoint software
Getting the most out of your C-8 -
Make Your Own Digital Setting Circles for Your Astronomical Telescope by David Ek
Mel Bartels - Motorize Your Telescope: altazimuth and equatorial mounts -
Mike Boschat's Astronomy Page - massive list of links
Nite Lite by Robert D. Webb
Occultation Resources - including the use of GPS
Portable Astronomy Copyscope -
Purchasing Amateur Telescopes FAQ
Ron Wodaski's Astronomy Stuff - CCD tips 7 tricks - book cahpter
Stargazer's Pub - links
Simple Astrophotography - A Guide to doing On-Tripod Astrophotography by Todd Carlson
SunCeolostat Designs - a ceolostat is a two mirror system that projects an image of the Sun either horizontally or vertically in such a way that the image does not rotate. Similar in concept to an equatorialy aligned telescope as compared to an eleva
The Spectrohelioscope Network -
eyes-on-the-skies - a Robotic Solar telescope
DFM - Optical Systems - We define a:Siderostat as an altitude over azimuth (Alt-AZ) gimbal mounting a single optical flat mirror.
Heliostat as an equatorial mounted optical flat mirror that directs light along the polar axis either upward or downward.
Lunastat may take either configuration.
Ceoleostat is typically a siderostat, but again the word is poorly defined.
Beam director can take the form of a siderostat, or a Coude' telescope of Alt-AZ, Alt-Alt, or equatorial configuration.
Satellite WatchingWhile looking up to see the fire falls (they pushed a big pile of burning wood over a water fall in a nightly ceremony) at the Yosemite National Park I noticed a bright light very high up in the sky moving at a speed that was much faster than an airplane at 35,000 feet could fly. I knew that it was a satellite because I was working with some microwave components destined for military satellites. I pointed out the satellite and many people were looking at it rather than the fire falls.
It turns out that if you are on a spot on Earth that is dark the Sun is still shining above you around dawn and dusk. If a big satellite is in the Sun and you are in the dark you can see it without any binoculars or telescopes. If you are outdoors at dusk, just look up every now and then, and if you pay attention, you will see a half dozen or more satellites every night that the sky is clear.
There are people that are more serious about this that just a look up every now and then. This includes both the military looking for enemy satellites and amateurs just looking. See the August '98 issue of Sky & Telescope for articles on computer software to forecast satellite visibility and an article on how to actually image a satellite using a single frame type of video camera and VCR to get around the distortion caused by the atmosphere.
13 Aug. '99 - Spent a few hours looking up with just eyes (about 6 very big shooting stars (6 hand spans long North to South) & dozens of satellites. Most of the satellites were going either N to S or S to N and all in the same place (like a highway). Using 9x63 Binos I could search the sky by moving to the adjacent 5 degree Field Of View and as soon as my shaking stopped I could tell if there was a moving sat. Then moved to another FOV and stopped again. In this way I could find sats that were too faint to see with just eyes. I would think that some type of cooled CCD system with just a few seconds of integration time would be able to do this. More research needed regarding pixel size and focal length.
Important Notice 1999 July 05 -"Today, 1999 April 05, the following notice appeared on the NASA/GSFC Orbital Information Group (OIG) WWW page:
As the result of a joint request from USSPACCOM, NRO, Pentagon, and other sources some objects have been removed from the OIG systems. This request was approved by NASA HQ. These objects were removed because they were deemed to be "sensitive satellites".
These 'sensitive' satellites include all operational GPS and DMSP satellites. Since there are no longer any element sets for these satellites available for release to the public, I am no longer able to provide them here and they have been removed from the current lists. I will continue to work to see what can be done to reverse this decision.
As of 1999 June 23, it appears that the Department of Defense has quietly reversed its position on limiting access to GPS element sets. However, there does not appear to be any change regarding DMSP element sets."
Note the GPS satellites broadcast their positions in a public format and that is part of how they work. There are software routines that convert the data as broadcast from them into classical Two Line Elements (TLE) format that was being withheld.
I think that anyone who reads the links that I have here could build a system that would determine the TLEs for the DMSP sats by just looking at them either with trained eyes or a CCD equipped Meade LX-200 scope and a computer.
Alan Pickup - TLE file.zip -
Amsat -Satellite Summary - Keplerian Elements - Links - Suppliers -
Basics of Space Flight Learners' Workbook - NASA/JPL extensive basic information
Blind Deconvolution for Astronomical and Space-Object Imaging - post processing for debluring patent 5448053
Celestial and Orbital Mechanics - This is what they mean when they say "Rocket Scientist"
Celestron - NexStar 5 - GOTO scope for about $1300! - John's NexStar page - Email archive - photo of Hand Controller PCB -
Computers & Satellites by Dr. T.S. Kelso -
Dave's Military Space Page - information about a number of mil sat systems
Dave's Space Page - non military space
David Cottle's Home Page - orbital data
Decay information - when and where a satellite is expected to burn up
Dragon in Space - Chinese Space Links - reporting in Iriduim launches - unfortunately it's a geocities site with bothersome pop up advertising
Dr TS Kelso from NORAD Celestrak page - GEODSS & other ways that Space is officially watched - tracking software -
Earth Satellites for Asteroid Hunters - to NEO hunters will not mistake them for NEOs
Edge of Space Sciences - EOSS - Balloon Related Software - Element Manager for Windows -
Element Manager for Windows by Rick von Glahn, NØKKZ -manipulate NASA/NORAD "two line elements" TLEs
FAS Space Policy Project - a huge amount of information compiled by a non government organization
Heavens-Above - enter your location & it tells you when & where to look
High Altitude Satellite Observers Home Page - orbital period greater than 225 minutes (approx. 5900km altitude for a circular orbit)
ISS + Shuttle - hand guided!
GEOS - government site about these geostationary weather satellites
GSOC Satellite Predictions on line - now called Heavens-Above
Gunter's Space Page - Information on Launch vehicles, Satellites, Space Shuttle and Astronautics - USA military satellites launch list -
Home Planet - freeware includes DDE export for telescope pointing - Fourmilab - John Walker's web page
Introduction to Visual Satellite Observing by Jeff Hunt - home page is Visually Observing Earth Satellites -
ISS/Shuttle/Satellite Tracking Software and Links to Keplerian Elements Pages by Victor Amateur Radio Association (VARA), W2VTM.
NASA - Mission and Spacecraft Library -
Jonathan's Space Report - News of launches
Launch Logs - by year back to 1957 - Jonathan's Space Home Page -
LogSat Professional - prediction and Ham antenna pointing software
Mark Wade's ENCYCLOPEDIA ASTRONAUTICA - Huge reference source
Liftoff's J-Pass Version 1.0 - Java based on line predictor & J-Track Ground Track (both by NASA)
Mike McCants' Home Page - many links - THE TLE files -
Meade - LX200: 7, 8 & 10" -12" - 16" -12" f/2.2 Schmidt Camera - Doc G's Info Site - Sky & Telescope road test -
Meade has introduced the ETX- a low cost small scope with GOTO capability - Michael L. Weasner's ETX page -
Mission and Spacecraft Library at JPL -
MoonWatch - astronomy clubs in the 1950 - 1960 ear finding satellites
NASA - Worldwide Space Launches - SkyWatch -
New Scientist -publication
OIG - Orbital Information Group see TLE.info
Orbitessera - Elements, Ham Radio, Weather & big satellitie info
Panel Report Reveals Satellite Details -
Photographing Satellites - using film
Ron Dantowitz - Professional viewing of satellites using video camera - C-Sat Satellite Tracking Software for yourThere was a question as to whether the C-sat program actually "tracks" sats, or just positions the LX-200 so that you can see the sat go through the field of view. The answer is that it only points in a fixed location then the satellite goes through the FOV. A very expensive mount is required for tracking or imaging satellites.Russian Ball-head -http://www.photoutfitters.com/sputnik.html for use between tripod and camera -made for wildlife photography, but should work for sat obs
Salopian Web - Astronomy.... Amateur Radio.... Computing.... Space....
Satellite Encyclopedia - launch date, official identification... and extensive description of the payload.
Satellite Hunting - software uses TLEs to predict sat position
Sattelite Observation by Alec Muffett -
Satellite Observing and Tracking with the Meade LX-200 -
Satellite Passes Over North American Cities -
Satellite Photo Gallery - by you can start to see the shape of the satellite
Satellite Program Homepages - both manned and unmanned
Satellite Situation Report - information to go with the satellite ID number COMSOFT
Satellite Tracking - 16" LX200 in Germany - great ISS photos
Satellite Tracking Web Ring - Home Page -6 sites as of 8 Oct. 99
SATPRO - $60 software by Comsoft
SatSpy for Windows - Windows based prediction software - Links -
SeeSat-L Home Page -(listserver subscribtion info) -does not predict, only what's overhead now (good reviews) -
Small Satellites - GPS -
Software and Data from David H. Ransom, Jr. - focused on observing the Space Station
Sources of Satellite "Two-Line" Orbital Elements (TLEs) -
Space Frontier Foundation - Znamya 2.5 is the world's first controlled global demonstration of space to Earth beamed solar power.
Space, Astronomy, and Other News Sites by Ed Cannon
SkyWatch - get an email when MIR or ISS is about to go over your location
Starshine - The Starshine spacecraft consists of a hollow aluminum sphere, 19 inches (48 centimeters) in diameter, covered with 878 polished aluminum mirrors, each of which is one inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter. Beginner's Guide On How To Track Starshine - Help Contribute Time and Position Estimates -
Sunsat - Payloads include NASA experiments, Radio Amateur communications, a high resolution imager, precision attitude control, and school experiments
Telescopic Satellite Viewing -
Time magazine - Quick, Hide the Tanks! -
TLE.info - replaced OIG, requires email confirmation to get TLEs
Unofficial GPS Elsets -
Visually Observing Satellites - by Ed Cannon
Visual Satellite Observer's Home Page - Excellent starting place for this topic -Telescopic Satellite Observations - Orbital Elements & Satellite Prediction Programs.
Visual Satellite Observation in Maryland by Don Gardner
Wonderful World of Satellites (A Satellite Primer) -
www.space.com - articles relative to space. The "area 51" section has some strange stuff
Orbit Determination (Search) SoftwareI am not aware of any amateur software to do this. Now only done by governments. My current idea is to use the Takahashi BRC-250 and the Kodak KLI-10203 (3 x 10,203 pixels) CCD. KLI10203.pdf data sheet, $736 ea. in small qty. Eval Board 9/99 @ $2500.
Prediction SoftwareAlphonse POUPLIER - English page - How I Track the Artificial Satellites With My Telescope -
Bester Tracking Systems - Satellite Passes -
Earth Satellite Ephemeris Service - Georgia State univ -
GSOC -> Heavens-Above
LogSat Professional -
Marshall Flight Center's - J-Track 2.5 -
Satellite Hunting -
SatSpy for Windows -
Super Secret Projects, Inc. - OrbMaster™ 2.0 -
Tracking SoftwareSatellite Tracking Software Index -Satellite Related Software.
Note: some Astro-Physics GOTO scopes have a command set that's LX-200 compatible
Program Review Op Sys Bird Dog Version 2.0 Kelso Review DOS Home Planet Release 3 - only a single sat that you choose from list Kelso Review WIN95, NT InstantTrack Version 1.00b Kelso Review DOS LogSat Professional for Windows Version 5.2 Kelso Review WIN3.1 Micro Orbiter Version 3.0 Kelso Review DOS Nova for Windows 32 Version 2.0j Kelso Review WIN3.1, 95, 98, NT OrbMaster 2.0 Kelso Review WIN3.x, 95, 98, NT Pangolin no scope control
95 98 NT 2k Me XP PC-Track Version 3.1 Kelso Review DOS SATPRO - from Comsoft DOS Satellite Tracker - continuous LX-200 tracking by Brent Boshart supports a lot of scopes
Good usr comts WIN95/98/NT Satscape - freeware - auto download of keps
WIN95/98/NT4/2000 Sat Spy Version 2.0 Kelso Review WIN3.x, 95, 98, NT STSPLUS Version 9848 Kelso Review DOS TrakSat Version 4.09 Kelso Review DOS WinOrbit Version 3.4 -freeware Kelso Review WIN3.x, 95 WinTrak Pro Version 4.07 Kelso Review WIN95, NT C-SAT V2.0 step track LX-200 Scope (like SATPRO less features) DOS Super Secret Projects, Inc. - OrbMaster™ 2.0
Marc DiPrinzio, president <firstname.lastname@example.org>
WIN3.1,95,98,NT CoSaTrak - Computerised Satellite Tracking
Sky Map 6.5
Satellite Tracking Software by TS Kelso
Astro Electronic - FS2 - Steper motor controler
Optical Characteristics of Artificial SatellitesThis is the report of a study done by the Space Division of North American Rockwell by studying the reported visual magnitude of observations most of which were done by amateur satellite watchers. Has theoritical brightness information and some conclusions usch as to determine the size of a rocket body the minimum brightness is the better value to use.It may soon become possible for amateurs to have a system similar to the GEODSS (Lincoln Labs: The GTS-2) run by the Air Force 18th Space Surveillance Squadron, Maui Optical Station ." The wing also controls and operates optical space tracking systems under the 18 SPSS, Edwards AFB, Calif. Wiki - List of AF Space Survelliance Squadrons
The Ground–Based Electro–Optical Deep Space Surveillance system, or GEODSS, is operated by Detachment 1, Socorro, N.M.;
Detachment 2, Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territories;
Detachment 3, Maui, Hawaii; and
Det 4, 18 SPSS at Moron, Spain.
In addition, Detachment 3 also operates the Maui Space Surveillance System, or MSSS. "
Publishes the "Space Observer" with Links to other related sites
In the GEODSS system 1 meter telescopes have replaced the Baker-Nunn cameras (Wiki photo) (Google Baker-Nunn in .mil) (Telescope Fabra ROA Montsec (TFRM) - BNC web pages) - overview of space surveillance) - list of SAOs Baker-Nunn Camera sites (Wiki). They are on equatorial mounts and record the sky image on a very large CCD. After some time the scope comes back to exactly the same RA and DEC and again records the sky. The two images are subtracted and what's left are non star objects. The system is designed to find artificial satellites and the data is made available to the JPL NEAT program. The original GEODSS system was built by TRW and was going to use image orthicon tubes, but CCDs came out before the tubes were installed. This system was written up in Sky & Telescope in the late 1960s.
DARPA - Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) -
Popular Science Sep 1982 - Satellite Trackers spot ultra-dim stars too - enter GEODSS and search the issue to find the article. They use the word "track" a lot but the system has the capability of finding new satellites and determining their orbital parameters. The description includes the telescope as having a hyperbolic primary mirror, and a flat secondary mirror then a correction lens and finally a three inch vidicon tube.The Spacewatch program at the Univ. of AZ uses a similar technique looking for Near Earth Objects. NEAR satellite at astroid 433 Eros (launch 17 Feb. 1996, arrives 10 Jan. 1999-rescheduled for mid Feb. 2000). JPL page for NEAR. First (1998 Dec. 23) Close Up photo. The Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project.
The Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) program will develop and demonstrate an advanced ground-based optical system to enable detection and tracking of faint objects in space, while providing rapid, wide-area search capability. A major goal of the SST program is to develop the technology for large curved focal plane array sensors to enable an innovative telescope design that combines high detection sensitivity, short focal length, wide field of view, and rapid step-and-settle to provide orders of magnitude improvements in space surveillance. This capability will enable ground-based detection of un-cued objects in deep space for purposes such as asteroid detection and space defense missions. The Air Force will participate in the DARPA funded developmental testing of SST and then take over operation of SST as a sensor in the Air Force Space Surveillance Network. An MOA has been established with Air Force Space Command for transition at the conclusion of Phase II that is anticipated to be completed in FY 2009."
Quail Hollow Observatory - amateur astroid & NEO watching
Space-Based Visible ProgramThe MSX satellite has a Visible sensor designed to look for satellites in space.
Technology Demonstrations - describes the unique sensor.
The operation is very similar to the GEODSS system, the SBV stares at a fixed RA-Dec location in space with a 1.4 x 1.4 degree FOV and takes up to 16 frames. Streaks are detected and stars removed by subtraction. Some fixed number of stars are retained, maybe a dozen, probably the brightest stars, which are later used to determine the exact RA-Dec if the center of the FOV. This way only the satellite tracks and reference star locations along with brightness info for each pixel are downloaded, reducing the download by over 1,000 times what would be required if all the info in the 16 frames was downloaded.
The Meade - LX200R f10 computer controlled telescopes now are all of the Ritchey-Chrétien instead of the older SCT design and come in 8", 10", 12", 14" and 16" objective diameters. The SBIG AO-7 adaptive optics contains a mirror with X & Y tip-tilt to remove any tracking error in the telescope mount. It works with either the ST-7 or ST-8 CCD cameras with a ROM upgrade. The ST-7 and ST-8 use patent 5525793 which covers using a dual CCD. This could also be used when coming back to a location in the sky to lock onto the exact same spot to make doing the subtraction of the previous image easier. Still some computer pattern recognition would be needed to be sure that the images were registered. To get the most from the LX-200 it needs to be on an equatorial mount on a pier in a dome. The alignment requires a 2X or 3X barlow magnifier for the precision alignment method.Advanced Electro-Optical System optical telescope - Wiki -
Aerospace Corporation - primary customer is the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) of Air Force Materiel Command
Air Force Research Laboratory Starfire Optical Range (SOR) -
Apogee CCD cameras
CASTOR - Molniya satellite orbit determination
CASTOR (new updated web page) -with details of how it's done
COMSOFT - software products, a control system called PC-TCS™ for equatorial mounted telescopes and SATPRO™ - an earth orbiting satellite tracking program which can be used in conjunction with PC-TCS™ to accurately track earth orbiting targets.
CORONA Satellite Photography - declassified photos
DFM Engineering, Inc. - makes high end mounts that use very smooth disks instead of gears
Fundamentals of Remote Sensing Tutorial - Google
Tim Puckett Obs - nice equipment
Lloyd's satellite constellations -
NASA - Liftoff to space exploration -Spacecraft Tracking - Satellite Pass Prediction - J-Track 3D shows the sats moving around the turning Earth GREAT!
Maui SSS allows researchers to use facility - news release-
National Space Science Data Center - SPACEWARN Bulletin - information on satellites and space probes
Crypto Me - Naval Space Command Space Surveillance System - 217 MHz radar fence FAS page on this. used to generate the Two Line Elements (TLEs) of satellites.
Optical Guidance Systems -
SatPro - Earth Orbiting Satellite Tracking Capabilities using Steward Observatory's 90 and 61 Inch Telescopes -
Software Bisque - a number of nice software products
TerraServer -lets you buy high-resolution satellite images and prints at an extremely low cost.
Vandenburg AFB - Unclassified Launch Schedule - Rawhide Space Page (close to VAFB) -
I'm putting this information on the astronomy page becasue the Two Line Elements are exactly the same as those used for visual satellite observation. All active satellites have various radio transmissions, but the majority of man made objects orbiting Earth are quiet in terms of radio transmissions becasue they are space junk. Most amateur satellite listening is done at UHF, VHF and HF frequencies although there is a lot of downlink in higher bands including C and X band Television + S-band telemetry.
HearSat.org - HF, VHF and UHF including a TLE list with frequency and modulation type info.
Zarya Technical Area -
Came across a patent for a Tellurian while looking for something else. PS when checking eBay I found a number of Tellurians under $300, but they appear to be artists conceptions, i.e. not at all functional.
A Tellurian (Wiki: Tellurion, aka tellurian, tellurium, loxocosm) is very similar to an Orrery (Wiki) except the Tellurion contains a light source so show shadows on the Earth and Moon and does not contain other planets.
An Orrery (Wiki) does not contain a light source and typically includes the sun, Earth, Moon and the one or more of the planets: (starting at the Sun) Mercury, Venus, Earth Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune . . .
The Antikythera mechanism (Wiki) is believed to be an orrery based on the epicyclic model of what we call the Solar System.
2287594 Tellurian, Barbagelata Angelo, 1942-06-23, 434/293; 968/169 -
Cited by:The oldest patent in class 4343/293 is:
51072 Improvement in Orreries, John G. Moore, Nov 21, 1865, 434/293 D19/61 - Sun, Earth & Moon
66791 Tellurian, S.P. Campbell, July 16, 1867, 434/293 - kerosene lamp (Sun), Earth and Moon
83474 Astronomical Apparatus, J. Davis, Oct 27, 1868, 434/293 -
122954 Improvement in Telluriums, G.S. McKenzie, Jan 23, 1872, 434/293 - astrological month names
167138 Tellurians, Joseph Troll, Aug 24, 1875, 434/293 368/16 -
198647 Tellurian, G. McBride, Dec 25, 1877, 434/293 -
Classical Radio ObservingThere is The Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA) that are working on various projects. They do not endorse amateur SETI work, not because they don't believe in ETI but because the search is not possible with small antennas.
University of Cambridge - Cavendish Laboratory - Astrophysics Group - Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory -
U.C. Berkeley Radio Astronomy Lab -
Stanford - Space, Telecommunications, and Radioscience Laboratory - Big dish on 280 freeway and there are a lot more RA dishes on the other side of the 280 freeway behind the tennis courts. That's where I picked up a 10 dish and polar mount.
MIT -Radio A. - Linclon Labs - Haystack Observatory -Radio Astronomy at Haystack Observatory - Small Radio Telescope Project -
NRAO-Green Bank - Radio Astronomy Frequency Bands - 13.36 MHz to 8.51 GHz , Radio Astronomy Freq.Bands > 10 GHz - 10.6 GHz to 275 GHz
5.2 Meter Radio Astronomy Project for 1420 MHz - construction details
Radio Astronomy at the University of Indianapolis - How to Build an Inexpensive Radiotelescope
Radio Astronomy Web Ring -
Radio-Sky Publishing -Radio Sky CDROM I - radio sky surveys & software
Radio Astronomy Web Ring -
NASA - Project Radio Jove - natural radio emissions of the planet Jupiter and the Sun - RJ 1.1 20 MHz Receiver Kit manual.pdf - $115note that the kit does not include all the parts, you will need to get some things locally
Goldstone-Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT) - Basics of Radio Astronomy, Tour of the GAVRT Antenna.pdf, Theory of Operation.pdf -
Syracuse University Department of Physics- Science for the 21st Century -SETI - Measuring Time & Distnace -
MeteorsInternational Meteor Organization - Radio Observations - Video Observation (also see my page on Satellite Orbit Determination)
Observing Meteors by FM Radio -
SETI Search for Extra Terrestrial IntellingenceThe movie Contact is about this topic.
The SETI League, Inc. is interested in finding an intelligent signal from outer space using amateur equipment. There is a paper on the web that seems to say that amateur radio telescopes can only see a short distance into space. If a large number of amateurs use these in parallel they can not see any further so amateur radio astronomy is of limited usefulness for SETI work. SARA does not encourage SETI work. SARA is very useful for other tasks.
The SETI Institute is a funded group of people working at a scientific level. They are located in Mountain View, CA which is where much of the NASA SETI work was done. Project Phoenix is a continutation of the NASA HRMS Project - preceeded by Project Ozma in 1960. List of Searches - Links - "Contact" the Movie - web cams at the 1000' dish.
SETI@home - Version 1.0 available (5/30/99) - U.C. Berkley is distributing a screen saver that will be looking for SETI signals while your computer is idle. Quick theory of analysis. SETI@home data flow diagram - prototype graphics - NBC article on SETI@home - Arecibo Radio Telescope- source for SETI@home data
Sky map showing completed Work Units (purple) stars, and the Milku Way (blue area)
SERENDIP - (Search for Extraterrestrial Radio Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations) - related to SETI@home
Optical SETI - looking for narrow band (not thermally broadened) laser lines or very short pulses of light
Discovery of Extrasolar Planets - summary - Links -
Kepler Mission - proposal to NASA search for extrasolar Earth-size habitable planets not yet funded
Popular Mechanics- SETI page -
ABC News - Is It Time to Scrap SETI?
Columbus Optical SETI Observatory -
SETI Webring -
Note: A way that small radio telescopes could be combined would be if they used atomic frequency standards for all the local oscillators and time stamped the recorded output. This is what the do for VLBI (Wiki).
For many years the Naval Observatory used photographic observation of the stars to set their clock. This was using a Photographic Zenith Tube (PZT). This is a telescope that uses a pool of mercury as the reflector so that it is looking exactly straight up. Four exposures were made on a glass plate at times determined precisely from the house master clock. By processing the plate and measuring the four images, the exact time that each exposure was made could be determined. This would give a correction for the house clock. See my Time and Frequency page for more information.
Now Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) is used to measure the Earth's rotation. The definition of time is based on Cesium clocks since the Earth's rotation is not steady enough for precision time keeping. Note that the Cesium oscillator supplies the "ticks" and the clock is set by one of many time transfer methods (today one of the GPS methods is the best).
Also see my Stellar Timekeeping web page.
In order to investigate the Earth's wobble about a half dozen observatories were set around the world all at about 39 degrees 8 minutes North Latitude. The Ukiah Latitude Observatory is on Observatory Road. That's how I found it.
The PIXY System is an automated astronomical image examination system developed by Seiichi Yoshida, used in the course of new object survey of the MISAO Project. It automatically detects all stars from an image, collates them with star data recorded in catalogs, and finds new objects or variable stars. It also prints out all astrometric and photometric data of all detected stars, so it is also useful for astrometry of minor planets or photometry of variable stars.
It is implemented using Java language. It runs both on a Windows PC and a UNIX workstation.
The PIXY System is a free software. The source files and documents are also available.
Some people would get the impression that Newton made a mistake and now has been discredited. That's not the case. The new ideas are extensions of Newton's laws that are only applicable in special cases.Actually just to clarify, I would flip this statement of yours around. The new ideas of 20th century physics (both relativity and QM) are extensions of physics OF WHICH Newton's laws are a special case. It is the new laws that are more general and more widely applicable. Newton's laws are still correct (by which we mean, correct to within our ability to measure) only in the limit of low speeds and large sizes.
2015 update by Brooke:
I highly recommend the book:
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch.
He gets to the heart of what science is.
I like his changing "theory" to "misconception" as in Newton's misconception of gravity, Einstein's misconception of relativity, the quantum misconception of physics, &Etc. His bottom line: 1. Problems exist 2. Problems can be solved.
TED:Chemical scum that dream of distant quasars
For more see my Science paragraph on the Diet & Nutrition web page. I started that page after reading about "bad science".
An Astronomer's Personal Statement on UFOs - by Alan Hale as in Hale-Bopp
How To Make An Alien - by a movie FX company
Outrageous Internet - UFO page -
Roswell Incident and Project Mogul - A Field Guide to Critical Thinking -
Skeptical Inquirer - What Really Happened at Roswell - The Roswell UFO Crash: What They Don't Want You to Know (Prometheus Books 1997)
Skeptics Society - different from Skeptical Inquirer
U.S. DOD page on UFOs - A.F. Roswell web page - "ROSWELL INCIDENT" 1994 - Roswell Report: Case Closed - Unidentified Flying Objects Research Guide - There are two official books on Roswell a 996 page book and a 243 page book both available from the GPO.
U-2s, UFOs, and Operation Blue Book - official NSA UFO web page -
Government Records - Resultsof a Search for Records Concerning the 1947 Crash Near Roswell, New Mexico - July 28, 1995, 26 pages, reproductionn of about 10 original documents.
5 November 1990: UFOs made by ufologists (05/11/2011) - Translated into English The 1990 decay of the rocket body that launched Gorizont 21 (see below)
Bad Astronomy -
Stumbled onto this YouTube video that has new details about Roswell related to sound channels in both the ocean (SOFAR bombs) and atmosphere (project MOGUL).
For more see my sonobuoy web page.
I belong an email server called SeeSat about visual observation of satellites. It turns out that with binoculars, a good stopwatch and knowledge of the stars you can not only see but compute the orbital elements of classified satellites. By "see" I mean as a point of light, not the shape. In recent years a part of that has been forecasting when and where a satellite will reenter and maybe crash. The people on that list have developed software expressly aimed at satellite reentry and it's been refined through a number of iterations over years, i.e. it works.
In the past few weeks they started to apply it to historical reentry events for the first time ever. Many of these events were of space objects whose orbital elements were well known prior to their reentry. But what was never before done was to use the new software and historical published reports to look at the reentry path.
It turns out that for the cases they studied there were "UFO" reports by all kinds of people. I expect that these are a big part of UFO history and now have been explained.
Misperception of Satellite Re-Entries - Seeing is Not Necessarily Believing. (Ted Molczan), Seesat-l Digest, Vol 48, Issue 9 1/10/2014
I'm pasting the complete article below, i.e. no editing, but I've restored the format.
Can you tell me if the UFO literature cites any or all of these?
Ted Molczan is the guy who wrote the email, here's some info on him:
Jim Oberg is a key player in this, so here's some information about him.
his web page:
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2014 00:09:23 -0500
From: "Ted Molczan"
Subject: Misperception of Satellite Re-Entries - Seeing is Not Necessarily Believing.
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Over the past couple of years, I have learned from Jim Oberg about an interesting and useful difference in the way people perceive meteor or satellite re-entry fireballs. Through their descriptions and drawings, it is evident that some perceive the phenomenon more or less accurately, but others perceive a craft with lights, typically cigar or saucer-shaped. This is not a new discovery, and will not be news to everyone on the list, but it was new to me, and it has proven invaluable to my research to produce a comprehensive compilation of satellite re-entry sightings.
Jim is interested in this difference of perception for what it may add to our knowledge about human perception and the reliability of eyewitness reports. He has been compiling examples of known re-entries, for which both perceptions have been documented in eye-witness descriptions, preferably as drawings. He has even used this knowledge to identify previously unknown re-entries among old UFO reports. I assisted in the identification of the new cases and plotted witness locations in relation to the re-entry ground track. Below are links to Jim's reports, most of them just released, prefaced by a few comments from me.
Probably the earliest directly relevant study appeared in Scientific Study Of Unidentified Flying Objects, The University of Colorado, 1968 - commonly known as the Condon report, after principle investigator Dr. Edward U. Condon. Astronomer Dr. William K. Hartmann studied sightings of the decay of one of the ullage motor assemblies of the rocket body that launched Zond IV, witnessed over a wide area of the northeastern U.S. on 1968 Mar 04 UTC. Here is Jim's report:
On 1990 Nov 05 UTC, the decay of the rocket body that launched Gorizont 21 was seen over a large part of Europe. Our colleague Pierre Neirinck quickly made the correlation, based on observations made by Daniel Karcher, an experienced satellite observer who happenned to witness the event. The following day, Pierre notified French authorities of his findings, documented here (top of pg.2):
http://www.cnes-geipan.fr/fileadmin/geipan-doc/RENTREE_ATMOSPHERIQUE_5_NOVEMBRE_1990__E-Csep_CR_T_S_A__compte_rendu-R.pdf <- add "f"
The event yielded a large number of sighting reports and drawings, with both categories of perception well represented in Jim's analysis: http://satobs.org/seesat_ref/Oberg/901105-French_wave.pdf Less than four years later, the rocket body that launched Cosmos 2290 was observed to decay from Zimbabwe and South Africa, on 1994 Sep 14 UTC. Sighting reports and drawings compiled by UFO researcher Cynthia Hind document both types of perception. The possibility that Cosmos 2290 rocket was the cause came to light early, but the UFO community seemed uncertain whether to embrace that explanation. I confirmed the correlation as part of my recent historical research. Here is Jim's analysis:
The ullage motor assembly of the rocket that launched Raduga 1-4 put on a fine show when it decayed over the U.S. Pacific Coast, on 1999 Sep 02 UTC. It was promptly and accurately identified as a re-entry, but the numerous reports of sightings of a structured craft caused some to doubt that explanation:
In April 2012, Jim demonstrated the usefulness of this perceptual difference in identifying re-entries in old UFO reports. He relayed to me a query from British journalist Ian Ridpath, about a UFO sighting in Yukon, on 1996 Dec 12 UTC, and asked whether the reported phenomena could have been related to a satellite launch or decay. I found an excellent correlation with the re-entry of the rocket body that launched Cosmos 2335. Both types of perception are readily apparent among the witness descriptions and drawings. Below are the reports that I and Harro Zimmer published:
http://satobs.org/seesat/Apr-2012/0331.html http://satobs.org/seesat/May-2012/0015.html http://satobs.org/seesat/May-2012/0022.html
A couple months later, Jim found Russian reports of a UFO seen from Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, on 1963 Oct 30 UTC. Some of the drawings looked like a re-entry; others like a structured craft. The historical orbital data leaves much to be desired, but I found it sufficient to confidently correlate the sightings with the re-entry of the rocket body that launched Cosmos 20. Here is Jim's compilation and analysis of the sightings:
Here is my plot of known sighting locations and the ground track plot, which benefits from a trajectory analysis by Harro Zimmer, which I adjusted slightly to take advantage of a celestially referenced sighting made from Central Stadium, Kiev, during a soccer match:
Impressed by Jim's successes, I decided to try my hand at spotting a re-entry in a UFO report, which led to another nice find: the decay of the ullage motor of the rocket that launched Molniya 1-35, witnessed from the Canary Islands and Morocco on 1976 Sep 19 UTC. Here is Jim's report on the sightings:
In December 2012, I came across a UFO case witnessed from the Bahamas on 1985 Jan 11 UTC. Both kinds of perception were evident in reports and drawings, and at least one witness had suspected a re-entry, even sought NASA's assistance, to no avail. It turned out to correlate strongly in time and trajectory with the re-entry of the rocket body from the launch of Cosmos 1465. Recently, I found reports of sightings made at the same time from the southeast coast of Florida, with which this re-entry also correlates. Here is Jim's analysis:
A couple of weeks ago, Jim struck again, spotting a recent Russian article on a Bolide widely observed from Estonia and Russia on 1976 Feb 11 UTC. Both kinds of perception were evident. There had been sufficient sightings to enable meteor analysts at the time to determine the trajectory with great precision, to which I found an excellent match by the re-entry of the rocket body from the launch of Cosmos 799. Here is Jim's analysis:
These cases represent a small fraction of those likely to be found among UFO reports. I found more than 20 percent of the 211 re-entries in the latest draft of my compilation, by searching through old government and private UFO case reports. None had been correlated with a re-entry, though some had been suspected as such. Descriptions of craft with lights are common across the entire body of sightings. Whatever their cause(s), there does not seem to be any obvious correlation with geography, race or ethnicity. Having observed a re-entry myself, I believe I can understand the profound effect it can have on witnesses. The one I observed was among the small minority that could be predicted with some accuracy, so I was prepared for it and made scientific observations. Most witnesses are completely surprised. Emotional reactions vary considerably. Fascination is common. So is fear. Some claim to become convinced of the ET hypothesis of UFO sightings. Their common refrain is that seeing is believing. But an impressive and growing body of evidence continues to bear out Dr. Hartmann, that when it comes to re-entries, seeing is not necessarily believing. Researchers, whether interested in UFOs or re-entries, ignore this at their peril. Those who pay heed and make the necessary allowances for human limitations may profit.
Web page created 19 Jan. 2000.