Re: SATOBS 2005 August 07-08

From: Peter Wakelin (
Date: Tue Aug 09 2005 - 15:52:06 EDT

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    In message <026601c59ceb$acf174c0$35a52b18@cr871925a>, Ted Molczan
    <> writes
    >I just took my first long look at your report of Aug 7/8 UTC, and was stunned 
    >find 312 positions of 59 objects on 122 transits, over a period of 7 hours and
    >16 minutes.
    >You had to be in constant motion that whole time, observing, making notes,
    >consulting charts, star-hopping. In this less than 10 min span, you tracked 8
    >different objects, most of them faint:
    Conditions were near-perfect; no moon, a very transparent atmosphere,
    temperature 17 -> 9C and, with the Milky Way high in the sky all night
    there's no shortage of faint stars for multiple points on a transit.  At
    my latitude the sun was only about 20 degrees below the horizon at
    midnight so low objects are still visible all night.
    There have been several significant events in recent years that have led
    to my increased productivity:
    Moving to a darker location in late '97.
    Purchasing 25 x 100mm binoculars in 2000.  These are impossible to hand
    hold so I constructed a pillar mount (tripod legs are too hazardous) and
    fitted the binoculars via a photographic video-camera head.  The real
    break-through came as a result of adding setting circles to azimuth and
    elevation axes enabling the binoculars to be aimed at the predicted
    satellite position to an accuracy of about one degree.  This did away
    with the laborious plotting of satellite tracks on star charts.  It also
    permits observations to be made in a bright sky when few stars are
    visible to the unaided eye.
    Then I discovered Chris Marriott's SkyMap Pro software which greatly
    aided the reduction of observations and permitted the use of fainter
    stars than the magnitude 9 limitation of the Becvar charts I'd been
    using for thirty-something years.
    Lastly, but the biggest aid to productivity, came Ted's ObsReduce;
    there's no way that I could reduce 300+ observations and type them
    error-free without it.
    >I imagine the preparation and reduction time about equalled the observing time.
    Somewhat less; about 30 minutes to run predictions and edit the list, 10
    minutes to set up the equipment and four hours for reduction (spread
    over a six hour period).
    >Congratulations, Peter, on an exceptional night!
    Thanks, Ted.   Pierre thought 12 cloned Peters helped me but I confess
    to other helpers:  The two Davids (Brierley and Hopkins) whose
    prediction software I use; Mike McCants who speedily turns observations
    into accurate elsets and you, Ted, for ObsReduce.
    Best wishes, 
    Peter Wakelin
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