New Subscriber

Don Heller (
Fri, 19 Jul 1996 15:03:59 -0700

Hi Observant Ones -

This is a brief introduction, as requested.  I have been an electrical
engineer since 1960.  From 1960 to 1969, I worked at Cape Canaveral,
developing, testing & launching ICBMs, Gemini, and Apollo.  Got my MS
& taught at Fla Institute of Tech there.  Moved to LA, worked on an
early Starwars project for ICBM defense, then came to JPL (Jet Propulsion
Laboratory) in 1977.  Worked on Viking, Voyager, Galileo, and several
research projects.  Currently I'm on the Voyager Flight Team.  Due to the
budget crunch, everyone here wears multiple hats.  My "official" main job
is Sequence Integration Engineer, building command sequences to tell the
two spacraft what to do and where to point its instruments.  This takes
about 5 percent of my time.  My real main job is network manager.  I'm
the system admin for a mix of PCs, Macs, UNIX machines, Novell file
servers, and their rocket scientist slaves.  I do hardware & software
purchasing, installation, maintenance, & training.  I'm the postmaster
for our email, the webmaster for our web site, and everything related
to computers and communications.

At home, all my friends & family expect me to know everything there is
to know about stars, comets, satellites, electronics, tools, chemistry,
biology, you name it.  Every year a group of about 40 of our closest
friends camps on Catalina Island for a week, and we do stargazing every
night.  Great seeing out there!  We see many satellites, but it has
always been just luck to be looking up at the right time.  I downloaded
SatSpy & some elsets.  Works great.  Is this the best tool for the job?
I'm only interested in naked-eye visuals.  Any advice about the best
tools & filters is much appreciated.  Some of the seesat users impress
the hell out of me, as does anyone who is well-focused and impeccable
in their pursuits.

We will be in Catalina at the Isthmus (far from Avalon) from July 28
to August 3.  I hope to get the latest elsets at the last minute, then
print out skymaps for the week for all the visibles.  I'll try to take
notes and post our results, but it will be strictly eyeball stuff.  Is
this ok?  By the way, I live in Sierra Madre, CA.  This is a very small
community nestled in the foothills directly south of Mount Wilson, near

Regards, and good seeing!

Donald W. Heller, Voyager Flight Team

Simplest job description on the project:
Make everything work with everything else.