Flaring geosat season

From: Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Date: Mon Feb 21 2005 - 23:09:49 EST

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    Long-timers know about this.  For newcomers (if there are any
    anymore), in the next couple of months (exactly when depends 
    on your latitude) there is the opportunity to observe much 
    more easily than usual quite a few operational geostationary 
    satellites.  The following two messages contain more details 
    and links to messages with even more details:
    
    http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Feb-2004/0069.html
    http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Feb-2003/0461.html
    
    You don't even need predictions to see them.  You just need 
    to know the correct declination for your latitude; then you 
    search that declination for objects standing still against 
    the stars.  But if you want to identify which ones you saw, 
    you at least need "post-dictions".
    
    In terms of knowing where to look, I wonder if there are 
    public listings of where operational geostationary satellites 
    are located, their longitudes.  If their longitude slots are 
    in the public domain, maybe there could be a program that 
    could convert the spatial coordinates "latitude zero, 
    longitude x" into public domain TLEs, as the mean motion, 
    eccentricity, inclination and drag are all pretty well known 
    quantities for the great majority of the non-classified 
    operational ones.  So for those no one would need 
    Space-Track.org elements -- maybe.  (I'm wondering how 
    significant the epoch would be.  If they have almost no drag, 
    almost zero inclination, almost zero eccentricity, wouldn't 
    it work just to use "today" as the epoch?
    
    Continuing on speculating about producing public-domain 
    elements.  If someone were to get an accurate position on a 
    object that might be an operational active (not a spare) 
    Iridium and were to develop accurate TLEs for it, isn't it 
    then possible to derive TLEs for all of the other 65 active 
    ones, due to knowing that there are six evenly space planes 
    with 11 of them per plane?  It sure would be nice to have 
    public domain elements for active Iridiums, so we could 
    discuss them publicly, post flare predictions, etc.
    
    [Note to self -- I probably shouldn't speculate about orbital 
    analysis, about which I know practically nothing, in front of 
    the whole world....])
    
    Weather forecast here -- next six or seven days, mostly 
    cloudy with chances of rain.  Seeing flaring geosats may be 
    moot, if the weather doesn't improve.
    
    Ed Cannon - ecannon@mail.utexas.edu - Austin, Texas, USA
    
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