Leigh Palmer (
Sun, 15 Dec 1996 11:27:01 -0800

The list of bright satellites discussion rouses me from my lurker role.
Beginners in satellite observation (I consider myself to be one of them)
have difficulty reading this group because many postings are liberally
sprinkled with jargon. Acronyms (some really rather obscure) and the
bandying about of application names without regard to the fact that not
everyone knows immediately that a particular application is for DOS,
Windows, or Unix* contribute to the opacity of the prose which, if one
is thoroughly clued, is otherwise quite informative. As a professional
scientist I have encountered this difficulty many times before; I
probably encounter it daily. I can cope. If this is a group which wishes
to encourage the curiosity of beginners who are not used to this sort of
give and take in arcane code then I think two things would be useful.

I would like to see some public spirited soul (and there are many in
this list, so many that if I started naming them I would surely make a
grievous omission) create and maintain a Glossary containing acronyms
and specialized terms related to artificial satellites. The glossary
should be published to the list periodically so newcomers can find the
right page. I have seen such a glossary somewhere on the web which (with
the author's permission) could probably form the nucleus of a living

The other improvement which could be made for the benefit of beginners
is one which teachers sometimes forget (I'm a teacher, too). It would be
a good idea to frame posts in such a way that they speak to a cohort of
readers less sophisticated than the poster. I try to do that whenever
(rarely) I can make a significant contribution to this list. For example
in this group I would never speak of "the integrals of the system",
though among celestial mechanics everyone would know that I referred to
things as common as total energy which could be named specifically.

Just my two cents (Canadian),


*So far as I know there is only one Macintosh application, Bill Bard's
superb "Orbitrack". Bill is reading the list but always seems too
modest to mention his marvelous creation. I know of only one other Mac
application that does any sort of satellite prediction at all, and
given the fact that more and more scientists are converting to Macs now
that the new high speed Power PC machines are available, it would seem
a good time to plug "Orbitrack".