RE: Coursen magnitudes

Ted Molczan (
Tue, 23 Jul 1996 21:11:46 -0400

>I personally would not consider Ron Coursen's magnitude estimates to be
>accurate to any more than +/- 1 full magnitude.  And that's for steady
>objects.  It would be worse for flashing ones.  He is not an astronomer, but
>merely a casual night observer. 

I agree with you, but I wish that you had limited your 
comments to the above. There was no need to go on for 
two more paragraphs, in a public forum, to paint such 
a negative picture of someone who is in no position to 
defend himself. (Ron does not have Internet access.)

I have known Ron Coursen for about 9 years, and he
has never made any claims to being anything other
than a casual observer. I too have provided him with
look-angles for his favourite objects from time to 
time, but it has been far from a one-way-street.

He has always willingly searched for newly launched
objects or other objects of special interest to me,
often getting up in the middle of the night to do
so. I can think of several occasions when he was the 
first or second to spot a new launch, providing data 
which was useful for improving search elements. This 
despite providing timings accurate only to about one 

Also, Ron is very observant, often spotting objects
in bright twilight that other observers might not
bother looking for, let alone see. I have found his 
descriptions accurate enough to discriminate between 
two flashing objects closely spaced in the same orbit, 
even though he did not make precise measurements.

Now that I have balanced the story on Ron, I will have 
nothing more to say about this on Seesat-L.

Ted Molczan