The Creation of SeeSat-L, at its 2nd anniversary

Walter Nissen (dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Tue, 26 Nov 1996 07:27:34 -0500 (EST)

As the second anniversary of the beginning of SeeSat-L approaches, perhaps 
it would be appropriate to record here some of the events which resulted 
in the creation of SeeSat-L. 
Some precise details are found in the excerpts, below, from the source 
documents at the creation of SeeSat-L.  I had a couple of satellite 
observing mailing lists kept by hand.  I wrote to Rob Preston asking him 
if he would be interested in creating an automated list, cc'ing Bart. 
Bart responded.  The rest is history. 
We made a number of amusing mistakes, but we had the right ideas and the 
determination to carry them out. 
If this message should happen to be your introduction to SeeSat-L, or to 
the world of Visual Satellite Observing as it exists on the Internet, 
please note that some of the details have changed.  For the most current 
information, please send a message to, and not as indicated 
below in the old messages. 
I want to thank the many people who make SeeSat-L, at it enters its third 
year of operation, an interesting aspect of electronic communication.  The 
problem with thanking Bart, and the many others who are deserving of 
specific mention, is that inevitably some people get left out.  Let me 
instead say that I much appreciate virtually all of the regular 
contributors and the "core" participants.  So many of you are truly 
wonderful.  My lack of energy may make it seem that I am brusque or 
unresponsive, but actually I really like the great majority of postings to 
SeeSat-L, and their posters.  Indeed I would welcome more "core" postings, 
i.e., of visual satellite observations; also we should always consider the 
Walter Nissen          
We are all newbies at almost everything. 
Date: Sat Nov 26 09:16:06 1994 
From: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
Subject: re: your (RAP) messages 
Reply-To: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
> What are overflow headers? A birdwatching mailing list? Can I join? 
Some sort of mailer malfunction.  I was writing to sci.astro, but few 
people have the stomach to read it, so I sent copies to something that 
might possibly be a birdwatching mailing list, but is actually only a 
fraction of my satellite tracking correpondents.  You've already joined! 
You wouldn't by any chance be interested in running an automated mailing 
list, would you?  Probably fewer than 50 subscribers. 
Date: Sun Nov 27 18:59:10 1994 
From: BDP@MPE.MPE-GARCHING.MPG.DE (Bart De Pontieu) 
Subject: Re: your (RAP) messages 
To: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu 
>You wouldn't by any chance be interested in running an automated mailing 
>list, would you?  Probably fewer than 50 subscribers. 
I will react to the rest of the mail tomorrow. 
I have been thinking about the same thing lately, namely a satellite 
observers mailing list. I have about 25 people on my distribution list 
for the Flash email-report. Recently more and more of our discussions have 
been between several people at the same time, with the consequent 
uncertainty of who received which part of the discussions. 
So, I have today invested all my time in digging up software (on the net) 
to maintain a mailing list. Quite succesfully, I might say. I will 
tomorrow talk to my system manager to see if he would allow me to 
experiment a bit with the software. I'm now at the point where I got 
the software running, all but for one point : changing the aliases in 
the alias file. I need root-priviliges for that, but the software I 
installed is really not big or heavy. It would allow for automated 
subscribing and unsusbscribing. And it would e.g. forward any mail 
received *directly* to any person subscribed. Just what we need! 
I hope I can convince my system-manager that it will not be a big 
burden on his system :-) 
If I can do that, I expect to create the satobslist (or whatever) 
this week. From what I gather it shouldn't take too much time, being 
almost completely automatic. 
I'd like to hear your reactions. 
Date: Sun Nov 27 19:04:09 1994 
From: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
Subject: Re: your running a mailing list 
Reply-To: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
Bravo !! 
Date: Sun Nov 27 19:06:52 1994 
From: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
Subject: name for mailing list 
Reply-To: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
I suggest thinking about SEESAT-L as the name for the list.  I've 
thought about SATRACK-L, TRACKSAT-L, ORBIT-L, etc., and like SEESAT-L 
Date: Mon Nov 28 13:03:28 1994 
From: BDP@MPE.MPE-GARCHING.MPG.DE (Bart De Pontieu) 
Subject: SeeSat-L 
To:, dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu,,,, execu!, 
Hi everyone, 
After a suggestion of Walter Nissen, I have looked into the possibilities 
of starting a satellite observer's mailing list on our machines here. 
Yesterday I installed software to maintain a mailing list. It is fully 
automatic and from the tests I did today works smoothly. I have created 
a mailing list called 'seesat-l' (Walter's suggestion). It is intended to 
forward all messages (sent to "") 
to the subscribed people. To subscribe you should send a mail with subject 
line "Subscribe" to "". 
The body of the mail can be empty, is not important. Maybe it is best to 
send a mail with subject 'Help' to the request-address. It will send you 
back a file with help on the commands possible. 
I would like to keep 'seesat-l' unknown in this first testing stage. So, I 
would like to ask you to not tell anyone about it yet. I do encourage *you* 
to test it, to send mails to it about satellite observing or just test 
messages. I would like to hear  your reactions to the idea of a mailing 
list and on how it was implemented. Send you comments to the seesat-l, we 
can discuss them on seesat-l. 
The reason for this test phase is obvious. I have never used this software 
before and want to make sure it works before going a bit more public. I also 
have permission from my system manager for this test phase, i.e. a limited 
number of people. Our system will receive an upgrade soon, so it is very well 
possible this first try-out may not last for a week. I intend to decide 
after a week or so whether or not to go through with it. 
Date: Mon Nov 28 22:49:12 1994 
From: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
Subject: Subscribe 
Reply-To: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
Date: Tue Nov 29 07:06:52 1994 
Subject: Re: Subscribe 
To: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu 
You have added to the subscriber list of: 
the following mail address: 
By default, copies of your own submissions will be returned. 
This is an automated subscription mechanism.  For your verification, a 
transcript of the original subscription request is included below. 
If the wrong address has been subscribed and you seem to be unable to fix it 
yourself, reply to this message now (quoting it entirely (for diagnostic 
purposes), and of course adding any comments you see fit). 
>From dk058@eeyore.INS.CWRU.Edu  Tue Nov 29 04:06:48 1994 
>Received: from eeyore.INS.CWRU.Edu by via SMTP (911016.SGI/911001.SGI) 
>       for exec /usr/people/bdp/satlist/.bin/flist seesat-l-request id AA15501; Tue, 29 Nov 94 04:06:48 -0800 
>Received: (dk058@localhost) by eeyore.INS.CWRU.Edu ( 
>       id WAA04048; Mon, 28 Nov 1994 22:49:12 -0500 (from dk058) 
>Message-Id: <199411290349.WAA04048@eeyore.INS.CWRU.Edu> 
>Date: Mon, 28 Nov 1994 22:49:12 -0500 
>From: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
>To: seesat-l-request, 
>Subject: Subscribe 
>Reply-To: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
Date: Mon Nov 28 22:51:10 1994 
From: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
Subject: Help 
Reply-To: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
Date: Tue Nov 29 07:09:01 1994 
Subject: Re: Help 
To: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu 
                        General info 
The SeeSat-L list is a mailing list for satellite observers. It is currently 
in a test-phase and is not fully operational yet. 
Subcription/unsubscription/info requests should always be sent to the 
following address : "" 
Contributions to the list should always be sent to the following address : 
To subscribe to SEESAT-L, simply send a message with the word "subscribe" 
in the Subject: field to "". 
To unsubscribe from SEESAT-L, simply send a message with the word (you 
guessed it :-) "unsubscribe" in the Subject: field to 
In the event of an address change, it would probably be the wisest to first 
send an unsubscribe for the old address (this can be done from the new 
address), and then a new subscribe to the new address (the order is important). 
Most (un)subscription requests are processed automatically without human 
Do not send multiple (un)subscription or info requests in one mail.  Only one 
will be processed per mail. 
NOTE: The -request server usually does quite a good job in discriminating 
      between (un)subscribe requests and messages intended for the maintainer. 
      If you'd like to make sure a human reads your message, make it look 
      like a reply (i.e. the first word in the Subject: field should be "Re:", 
      without the quotes of course); the -request server does not react to 
                        The archive server 
Every submission sent to this list is archived.  The size of the archive 
is currently limited to the last ten mails. 
You can look at the header of every mail coming from this list to see 
under what name it has been archived.  The X-Mailing-List: field contains 
the mailaddress of the list and the file in which this submission was 
If you want to access this archive, you have to send mails to 
"" with the word 
"archive" as the first word of your Subject:. 
To get you started try sending a mail to 
"" with 
the following: 
                Subject: archive help 
Date: Mon Nov 28 23:09:36 1994 
From: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
Subject: Evening OBS 
Reply-To: dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Walter Nissen) 
Thank you, Bart, for setting up a mailing list for visual satellite observers. 
I hope to have more substantial contributions in the future, in the 
appropriate formats, but let me mention a couple of OBS from this evening. 
HST gave me a mag 2 or 3 glint as it passed south of me. 
C* 1766 = 16881 = 86-55A was steady. 
C* 2242 = 22626 = 93-24A exhibited a very complex light curve.  During the 
last part of the pass it showed very bright flashes, as high as mag 0?, 
with a slightly asymmetric 61.2 second period. 
This last is perhaps the least explained by my conjectures about the C* 1933 
C* 1500 = 14372 = 83-99A was steady. 
DMSP F3 = 10820 = 78-42A fluctuated greatly and yielded one truly 
extraordinary mag -1 flash.  This would be extraordinary, that is, for any 
common object, but when at a higher altitude, DMSP F3 has shown mag -2 
Date: Thu Dec  1 10:17:40 1994 
From: BDP@MPE.MPE-GARCHING.MPG.DE (Bart De Pontieu) 
Subject: Various 
Hi everyone, 
Seesat-l is nearing the end of its test phase. I think everything runs 
smoothly. I've changed a few of the help-files, esp. the one about the 
archive. If you want to see mails that were put on the seesat-l before 
you were subscribed, I suggest you send a mail with subject 'archive help' 
to seesat-l-request. 
Since traffic has been lower than feared, I think I can lift you from 
your oath of silence, i.e. you can tell other people about seesat-l. 
Please tell them to send 'subscribe' mails to SEESAT-L-REQUEST . You 
might want to send them the help-text (that you can receive by sending 
a mail with subject 'help' to the request address). 
By the way, message 11 in the subdir 'latest' of the archive (to read it 
send a mail with subject 'archive get lastest/11') contains some remarks 
on my thoughts about this list. Most of you were not yet subscribed when 
I wrote it, hence my repeat.