Best Naked-Eye Prediction Software?

SIDNEYMILLER@delphi.com
Sun, 21 Jul 1996 12:59:33 -0500 (EST)

Donald W. Heller, "dheller@danea.jpl.nasa.gov",
recently asked:

>  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.  

    Don, my favorite program is ViewSat, downloadable from Dave Ransom's
RPV BBS (310-541-7299) as VS109.ZIP.  ViewSat will show you what's 
available based on the limiting magnitude you specify based on your
location/equipment.  I'm a naked-eye searcher from an urban location,
and ViewSat does a splendid job of telling me what can be seen 
in my light-polluted skies.  
    This program produces predictions for up to 999 satellites from 
one viewing location.  You can send the results 
to the screen to read them, in addition to being able to send results
to a text file that can be edited/printed with your word processing
software. 
    Viewsat has a one-page menu where you pick the TLE file you're using
(you pick a drive or directory, VS shows you what's available); then you
pick as many satellites as you want (VS shows you which ones are available
in the *.txt file you just picked); then you pick the day and time to begin
a prediction; pick the duration of the prediction in days, hours, minutes, 
and seconds; pick a location (in the same fashion you picked a
satellite); designate the minimum elevation of the satellite(s), maximum
elevation of the sun, minimum satellite magnitude, and minimum satellite
mean motion.
    You can also pick the time lapse between predictions.  You can go
with predictions every minute or so, every second or so, multiple seconds 
or so, multiple minutes apart, and so on.  
    Your location can be read from one of many in a file, or typed in at
the screen.  (I use the STSPLUS.CTY file from Dave Ransom's STSPLUS,
downloadable from the same board.)
    Here's a sample:  
======================================================================
Viewing location: San Angelo, TX, Lat: 31.461, Lon: -100.434, El: 584
Date and time for start of run: 21 Jul 1996 20:45:00 local  
Maximum sun elevation: -12, Minimum sat. elevation: 21.0
Maximum sat. magnitude: 4.3, Minimum Mean Motion: 2.2

  Date       Time     Azim   Elev   RA     Dec    Alt     Range   Phs   Mag
             local    deg    deg   hr:mn   deg    km       km     deg

#19120 Cosmos 1943 r 
21 Jul 1996 21:56:00 166.72  21.29 17:16 -35.73  819.85  1750.47 139.5  5.2
            21:57:00 157.28  29.19 17:43 -25.62  820.57  1455.26 146.6  4.7
            21:58:00 141.14  38.10 18:17 -11.58  821.44  1227.88 152.3  4.3
            21:59:00 114.64  44.47 19:00   6.42  822.46  1111.85 148.6  4.1
            22:00:00  83.74  42.64 19:53  24.96  823.60  1142.13 134.6  4.3
            22:01:00  61.58  34.53 20:55  39.07  824.86  1308.53 119.6  4.7
            22:02:00  48.67  25.84 22:00  47.26  826.21  1567.84 107.8  5.3

Anything dimmer than magnitude 4.3 won't show up.  By setting your 
"maximum sat. magnitude" to the desired number, you can screen out dimmer
objects that require binoculars or darker skies or both.  Example:
Setting the magnitude to 7.3 would produce everything up to and including

#02825 Timation 1 r     
21 Jul 1996 22:57:00 302.86  23.10 11:37  39.09  919.28  1832.21  48.8  8.8
            22:58:00 290.79  29.07 12:25  31.21  918.48  1606.10  58.5  8.1
            22:59:00 273.77  34.01 13:11  19.78  917.71  1458.93  70.9  7.5
            23:00:00 252.80  35.69 13:54   5.72  916.99  1416.03  85.0  7.1 
            23:01:00 232.48  33.03 14:30  -8.68  916.31  1486.53  98.5  7.0
            23:02:00 216.70  27.67 15:02 -21.30  915.70  1655.72 109.5  7.1
            23:03:00 205.64  21.72 15:29 -31.41  915.17  1896.79 117.5  7.3

And of course, setting it to 10.0 would fill a file with the likes of

#00016 Vanguard 1 r   
21 Jul 1996 22:10:00 284.69  21.33 11:15  23.04 2810.16  4685.93  43.8 13.8
            22:12:00 284.25  27.04 11:41  25.11 2652.99  4118.42  49.4 13.3
            22:14:00 283.45  33.98 12:12  27.15 2491.36  3552.92  56.2 12.7
            22:16:00 281.93  42.83 12:54  28.96 2326.34  3003.31  65.0 12.1
            22:18:00 278.54  54.62 13:51  29.93 2159.18  2495.83  76.9 11.4
            22:20:00 267.09  70.57 15:10  28.54 1991.30  2080.68  93.3 10.6
            22:22:00 169.87  80.75 16:47  22.34 1824.30  1843.00 115.4 10.0
            22:24:00 124.78  58.86 18:25  11.25 1659.99  1871.97 139.7  9.8
            22:26:00 117.99  37.04 19:44  -0.29 1500.37  2172.20 159.1 10.1

==========================================================================

    I use ViewSat because it is very, very simple.  If someone as dense as
myself can figure it out, anyone can use it.  For instance, you can
pick "all" satellites or "none" with a single keystroke.
    By the way, once you pick any settings, they remain as defaults.  
You DON'T have to re-specify them every time!
    I hope you download VS and give it a try.  The author (not me,
somebody in Don's home state) requests US$20 if you're going to 
use it on a regular basis.

     Anyone with questions is encouraged to send me an Email,
although I'm having modem problems -- feel free to re-send if you
don't get a prompt reply.

================================================
| Sid Miller | sidneymiller@delphi.com | NH6TB |
| POB 89103                                    |
| San Angelo, Texas  76908                     |
| USA                                          |
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