Philip Chien (
Mon, 22 Mar 1999 00:43:32 -0500

"Izak Marais" <> said:

>It seems people in the Northern hemisphere have all the fun!  What about
>some info for those down south?

Let's ignore some of the astronomical phenomena like Halley's Comet, Eta
Carina, the Magellenic Clouds, and Supernova 1987A which those of you in
the Southern hemisphere get to see since they're below the horizon for most
of us North of the equator since they're off topic.

Let's also ignore that the water goes down the drain in the opposite
direction because that's just an urban myth.  ;-)

Anybody who's about half way around the world from a major launch site also
has the benefit of observing many upper stage burns.  One of the most
impressive photos of a pair of satellites ever taken was the trails of the
Centaur upper stage and Cassini spacecraft by an observer in Australia.
(of course those of us who live really close to launch sites get to see
launches ...)

Statistically more satellites are visible from the Southern hemisphere.
Overall most satellites are just as visible in either hemisphere.  But the
exception are satellites in elliptical orbits where there's a desire to
keep the satellite above the horizon for a Northern hemisphere ground site,
primarily Molniya orbits.  For these satellites they spend most of their
time in the Northern hemisphere at fairly high altitudes, and relatively
low perigees in the Southern hemisphere.  Hence while they are whizing by
at full speed, they're at a much lower altitude and therefore more visible.

Antoher advantage for viewers in the Southern hemisphere is the lower
population and lower number of satellite observers.  So each person's
observations of unique objects is much more important.

Philip Chien, KC4YER
Earth News
world (in)famous writer, science fiction fan, ham radio operator,
all-around nice guy, etc.