Re: Unidentified Satellites

From: George Roberts (
Date: Wed May 08 2013 - 01:56:14 UTC

  • Next message: "RE: Unidentified Satellites"

    usstratcom is usually accurate to < .1 degree and < 1 second.   The spy 
    satellite TLEs aren't so good.  You can look at the "epoch" date in the TLE 
    and if it is less than a month old it should be pretty accurate but after a 
    year it can be a few minutes off.  The location is usually spot on except 
    that stars move a bit over the course of a minute or two so you have to 
    compensate for that or just increase your off-track error by a few degrees.
    As far as distance is concerned - 1000 miles is a common distance for naked 
    eye satellites.  20,000 miles is very difficult but doable near the 
    equinoxes but they don't move very fast, lol.  But for the most part the 
    largest geo sync satellites are not visible even in binoculars except for 
    rare flashes.
    Mostly you should only see satellites when the sun isn't far below the 
    horizon.  Since we are heading into summer and you live quite far north I 
    guess you might see them all night long possibly?  Or maybe not within an 
    hour or two of midnight?  Not sure exactly.  I'm going to just guess that 
    you won't see any between midnight and 2am.  Not a single one.  If you still 
    see them that late - especially to the south - I'm guessing they aren't 
    But, yeah, there are tons and tons of satellites up there.  If it's really 
    dark and you lay on your back you can see lots of them.
    Hopefully someone will correct any mistakes I made in this post.
    - George Roberts 
    Seesat-l mailing list

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