Visual Satellite Observing Usenet Newsgroup Proposed

Jim Varney (
Sun, 21 Dec 1997 22:27:15 -0800

PROPOSED: Creation of a Satellite Observing Newsgroup


1.  Introduction
2.  How a Newsgroup Is Created
3.  Discussing this Proposal
4.  Text of the Draft Request For Discussion (RFD)

Dear SeeSat-L Subscribers,

Nearly two years ago a proposal was considered by SeeSat subscribers to lead
an effort to create a Usenet newsgroup devoted to visual satellite
observing.  That effort was scuttled due to fears and concerns that a Usenet
newsgroup might harm SeeSat-L by drawing subscribers away.

Now we know enough about Internet usage patterns to say with a high level of
confidence that a newsgroup and SeeSat-L would complement each other and
would not compete for readership.  The likely outcome is a minor increase in
the SeeSat-L subscriber base.

Presently there is no newsgroup devoted to satellite observing. Messages
such as "I saw MIR", "What software is available to predict satellite
passes?" and "What was that bright satellite I saw while camping?" are being
posted to newsgroups such as sci.astro.amateur and, even
though the messages could be considered off-topic.

The primary beneficiary of the proposed newsgroup will be novices with a
budding interest in observing satellites.  Currently there are a few
SeeSat-L subscribers who kindly help novices with their questions as they
are posted on Usenet.  We anticipate that such assistance will continue
after the newsgroup is created; the newsgroup will merely provide a "home"
for such questions and answers to ensue.  Newsgroup participants who show an
interest in satellite observing (and possess a degree of civility) can be
invited to join SeeSat-L to learn more.

It is not proposed to have any formal relationship between SeeSat-L and the
newsgroup.  Nor is it proposed to moderate the newsgroup.  There are more
reasons for having a newsgroup and these are stated in the RFD below.

NEWSGROUP CREATION.  The decision of whether or not a newsgroup is created
is up to the Usenet community.  Newsgroup creation follows an established
procedure.  The first step is the posting of a Request For Discussion (after
a review by a Usenet administrator) to the Usenet newsgroup "news.groups."
Comments pro and con are posted to the same newsgroup.  After at least 21
days of RFD discussion, a Call For Votes (CFV) is made by a neutral Usenet
Volunteer Votetaker.  Voting is by e-mail as instructed in the CFV.  If
there are enough votes and there is a sufficient majority, the newsgroup is

If there is demonstrated resistance in news.groups to the proposed newsgroup
during the RFD phase, the RFD may be rewritten and re-posted before doing
the call for votes.

DISCUSSING THIS PROPOSAL.  Please *do not* discuss this proposal on
SeeSat-L!  It is an administrative matter and doesn't involve satellite
observing and is therefore off-topic on SeeSat-L.

Please do not distribute this draft document on Usenet.

Please use the "Usesat-L" e-mail list which has been created for discussing
this proposal.  To subscribe, send an e-mail to with Subject: Subscribe.

Your comments are welcome on UseSat-L.  The RFD follows for your review and

Jim Varney
Jay Respler
Bart De Pontieu
Jeff Hunt

REQUEST FOR DISCUSSION.  This RFD is a draft.  It is subject to change
depending upon SeeSat-L subscriber comments or by comments received by
Usenet administrators.

*This is a draft.  Please do not post any discussion to Usenet at this time;
use Usesat-L*

-------- Draft Request For Discussion Follows ------------------------

                    REQUEST FOR DISCUSSION (RFD)
          unmoderated group sci.astro.satellites.observe-visual

Newsgroup line:
sci.astro.satellites.observe-visual   Visual observing of artificial
satellites (unmoderated)

This is a formal Request For Discussion (RFD) for the creation of a
world-wide unmoderated Usenet newsgroup sci.astro.satellites.observe-visual.
This is not a Call for Votes(CFV); you cannot vote at this time.  Procedural
details are below.

RATIONALE: sci.astro.satellites.observe-visual

The proposed newsgroup is intended to provide a forum for exchange of
information and dicussion about all topics related to the visual observation
of artificial satellites.  There is currently no newsgroup to discuss
satellite observing.  Interest in this topic is high, as evidenced by the
large number of postings (on various less-suitable newsgroups such as, sci.astro.amateur, etc...) about sightings of the Iridium
satellites, Space Station MIR, the Space Shuttle, and requests for the
identification of unknown satellites.  The Visual Satellite Observer's Home
Page web site ( is
averaging 15,000 hits a month.

Currently the main forum for discussions on this topic is the (unmoderated)
SeeSat-L mailing list <>.  This list
is growing continuously and now has over 450 members, with a volume of up to
25 messages per day.  Although unmoderated, SeeSat-L is monitored by the
list owner.  Messages with a high information content, such as observations
and orbital elements, are encouraged.  Protracted discussions are

Many of the SeeSat-L messages do not fit in any of the existing Usenet
newsgroups.   The sci.astro.satellites.visual-observe newsgroup would allow
a larger group of satellite observers to exchange information and have
broader discussions about visual satellite observing. Creation of this
newsgroup would reduce the number of inappropriate postings about satellite
observations to newsgroups such as sci.astro.amateur and
The intent of this newsgroup is not to replace the SeeSat-L mailing list.
SeeSat-L will remain unchanged to provide a medium for timely news and
messages with high information content.

CHARTER: sci.astro.satellites.observe-visual

sci.astro.satellites.observe-visual is an unmoderated forum for discussion
and exchange of information about visual observing of artificial satellites.
Possible topics include (list is not exhaustive):

- reports of observations of artificial satellites (manned and unmanned) and
space probes using naked eye, binoculars, telescopes, video, or photography
- orbital elements of satellites of current interest (new satellites,
satellites about to reenter the atmosphere, maneuvering satellites, etc)
- announcements of planned and recent launches
- visibility predictions for artificial satellites
- predictions of the decay (atmospheric reentry) of artificial satellites
- discussions about software related to predictions/analysis of visual
observations of artificial satellites
- instruments and techniques for visual observations of artificial
- results/reports of observational programs, such as the positional
measurements program of the UK Optical Tracking Working Group; the flash
period measurements program of the Belgian Working Group Satellites; the
informal spy satellite tracking program
- results of scientific studies using visual observations of artificial

The following types of articles are not part of the charter:

- non-visual artificial satellite observing (i.e. radio observations)
- articles which contain personal attacks of any sort, ad hominem arguments,
- blank messages, test messages, MAKE.MONEY.FAST, binaries, uuencoded
- advertisements not related to artificial satellite observing.

Discussions about technical aspects of payloads or rockets are acceptable,
but only if they are branched off of an observation or are limited in scope,
detail and length.  Articles containing discussions of radio observations
are not welcome, unless they are tied in with visual observations.


PROCEDURE:  This is a request for discussion, not a call for votes.  In this
phase of the process, any potential problems with the proposed newsgroups
should be raised and resolved.  The discussion period will continue for a
minimum of 21 days (starting from when the first RFD forthis proposal is
posted to news.announce.newgroups), after which a Call For Votes (CFV) may
be posted by a neutral vote taker if the discussion warrants it.  Please do
not attempt to vote until this happens.

All discussion of this proposal should be posted to news.groups.

This RFD attempts to comply fully with the Usenet newsgroup creation
guidelines outlined in "How to Create a New Usenet Newsgroup" and "How to
Format and Submit a New Group Proposal".  Please refer to these
documents(available in news.announce.newgroups) if you have any questions
about the process.

DISTRIBUTION:  This RFD has been posted to the following newsgroups:
news.groups, news.announce.newgroups,,,,, sci.astro,sci.astro.amateur

This message will also be sent to the following mailing list after the RFD
has appeared in news.announce.newgroups:


Follow-ups have been directed to news.groups. Please honor that and keep the
discussion to news.groups.


Jim Varney <>
Jay Respler <>
Bart De Pontieu <> (SeeSat-L list owner)
Jeff Hunt <>

MENTOR:  to be determined

------------- End of Draft Request For Discussion --------------------