RE: Unidentified Satellites

Date: Wed May 08 2013 - 02:55:54 UTC

  • Next message: Gavin Eadie: "Re: Unidentified Satellites"

    You don't need to get carried away. Just provide some specifics on what you have seen. Record the time (and time zone if not UT) to the nearest five or ten seconds and describe the object's path as nearly as possible relative to the stars. And try to estimate the apparent magnitude. With that basic observational information and your observing location (within ten miles is usually enough if you want to remain stealthy but within a mile is better), a satellite can almost always be identified. Most of the unknowns are military and intelligence satellites which are not actually "unknown" but are simply not included on many lists of observable satellites.
    An example report from my location near Newport, RI (USA) might be something like this:
    "Tonight, May 7, at 8:38 pm EDT I observed a satellite around 4th magnitude in the northern sky about halfway between Capella and Polaris. It was heading from northwest to southwest. At about 8:39:15 it was about five degrees directly above Castor and Pollux (which at this time were at nearly the same altitude in the west). At about 8:40:50 it passed about two degrees to the "upper left" of Alpha Hydrae (Alphard). A minute later it was too faint to see visually."
    And from that, Seesat-L members can figure it out --and WILL figure it out because they get pleasure from such things! That's really all it takes for a basic identification. You can get into MUCH more detailed reporting techniques if you're interested, but a simple account of the object's motion across the sky relative to background stars will usually be enough for an identification.
    Frank Reed
    Centennia Software
    Conanicut Island USA
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