Re: Geo sats.

From: Ed Cannon (
Date: Thu Mar 01 2001 - 21:47:00 PST

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    > I would like to know if it is possible to see Geo-sats 
    > using binoculars [...].
    > Richard Bassan
    > Caracas, Venezuela
    The answer is a "qualified yes", because it's possible to 
    see them with binoculars *sometimes*, but there are a *LOT* 
    of qualifications!
    For almost all operational ones almost all of the year, you 
    really need a telescope.  However, for a week or so twice 
    a year (near the equinoxes) you may be able to see some of 
    them "flaring" to surprisingly bright magnitudes.  Web sites 
    with information on these are below.
    There are a fair number of non-operational ones that are 
    tumbling, and some of them can flash as bright as +2 
    sometimes.  They're frequently called "flashing geosynchs" 
    or "flashing geosats".
    For more details, I recommend the following Web pages:
    Now, I would like to mention that there are some other 
    types of objects you might consider.  
    One type is the many low-inclination objects in LEO or 
    highly eccentric orbits (e.g., GTO), payloads and launch 
    vehicles.  Especially some of the rocket bodies, when 
    they're near perigee, would go over you very low and 
    bright and moving very rapidly.  
    Another type is objects in molniya-type orbits.  At your 
    latitude their range is much less unfavorable than when 
    they are over much more northerly areas. A few of these 
    are very interesting classified objects, and there are 
    also flashing Molniyas that can be seen in binoculars 
    (or sometimes even one-power) from Texas; they would be 
    much closer and thus brighter from your location.
    There are a few other objects such as ETS 6 (Kiku 6), 
    COMETS, Raduga 33, Milstar 3 Centaur, etc., that are in 
    odd orbits due to launch failures that will sometimes 
    go very spectacularly over your location.
    Though some of the information is getting somewhat dated, 
    there is still a lot of good information about Molniyas, 
    Centaurs, and other high-altitude objects on this site:

    Ed Cannon - - Austin, Texas, USA
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