Observation reporting on Heavens-Above

From: Chris Peat (chris.peat@heavens-above.com)
Date: Tue Oct 09 2001 - 17:07:45 EDT

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    Hi all,
    I've finally managed to get observation reporting going on Heavens-Above,
    and I've set up a special set of pages for Starshine 3. There is an
    observation entry page (only for registered users) and observations can be
    listed from all observers (open to everyone). The help and instructions are
    still rather weak, but I've added links to the help pages at the Starshine
    project home page, and the Visual Satellite Observers Home Page which also
    has a very good introduction to making satellite observations. I am sure
    there will be a few bugs found, but I thought it better to get the pages
    live rather than wait even longer trying to iron out every problem first.
    The database already contains several thousand observations from Seesat
    postings and also from lists which individual observers have sent to me.
    The positional observation reporting is definitely more advanced than the
    optometric, but this will change in the future. When a positional
    observation is entered, the residual position error (i.e. angular difference
    between reported observation and the position computed according to Spacecom
    elements) is displayed which should help people to spot obvious errors.
    Observations can be edited once entered.
    It is possible to extract the reported observations from the database in
    formats which can be fed directly into freeware programs such as ELCOR and
    With regard to orbit determination for Starshine 3, I share Tony's concerns
    that the occasional flashes produced will not allow very accurate positional
    measurements to be made. When a satellite is constantly visible, it's
    possible to anticipate when it will cross the imaginary line between two
    closely spaced stars, and this greatly improves both the timing and position
    estimates. With irregular flashes, and complete invisibility between,
    observers will probably have to use the naked eye to get a large enough
    field of view to spot the flashes. This means they won't be able to see so
    many reference stars, and when a flash does occur, they will take time to
    react and must remember where the flash was seen.
    I'm still waiting for Starshine to start making visible passes over Germany
    so I can get out and take a look myself.
    In the meantime - start those observations coming!
    Chris Peat, Heavens-Above GmbH
    E-Mail: chris.peat@heavens-above.com
    Web-site: www.heavens-above.com
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