Re: List of Bright Satellites - Why is it prepared Manually?

Dave Ziemann (dziemann@easynet.co.uk)
Sun, 29 Dec 1996 21:44:00 +0000

Many thanks to those who responded to my comments on satellite software. For
example,

dcappell@usa.net wrote:
>I am a developer of a satellite viewing program (SatSpy for Windows) and
>I thought I might try to address some of your issues.  I am a software
>developer
>with over 16 years of experience, 10 of which were spent developing tracking 
>software for NORAD, the US Space Command and other agencies.  I can only
>speak for
>myself and my software, so let me describe how I approached some of these
>design issues:
>----------<feature list deleted>----------
I have not seen your SatSpy for Windows software. It sounds like a
thoroughly excellent product from your description, particularly the
"automation" aspects.

>In closing,  I apologize to any who may be offended by my long description
>of a particular program.  However, if you would like to try it for yourself,
>you can download a copy from http://www.usa.net/acappella/satspy/satspy.htm.  
>BTW, I also post an elset file (elsets.zip) that contains over 1100 of my
>favorite elsets.  This is updated weekly from elsets found at the JPL site
>(Ted Molczan's file) and the Celestial Archives (tle.new, visual.tle and
>weather.tle).

Thank you for this information, notwithstanding my subsequent comments, I
will now download this and try it out.

Jay Respler wrote:
>QUICKSAT order *by event* not by satellite. You don't have to look for
day/time,
>elevation, pass in sunlight.  All sats have NAMES in addition to #. 
>
>>I want to immediately see a
>> summary list of forthcoming time-ordered events, each event having a single
>> local date/time and a satellite name. 
>
>QUICKSAT
>
>> the new criteria. Other filters could be established by the user (eg
>> favourite satellites, flashing satellites). I'm sure the knowledgeable ones
>> here can identify the important filters.
>
>QUICKSAT

I think I should take a closer look at QUICKSAT, it sounds like it does much
of what I asked for.

One reason I did not look so closely is that I had been hoping for a better
way of doing things than finding the relevent software, downloading it onto
my PC, learning how to drive it, grappling with unfamiliar terms and then
continuously feeding it with element sets which seem to be available from a
number of different sources.

As an enthusiast I might want to do that, but as a novitiate I do not. It
seems sort of dumb to have to download a program from the internet, when
that program is itself reliant on data available (mainly) on the internet.
Better if the program is located at a "one-stop" web site, from which it
knows where to get element sets. I should never even hear the phrase
"element set". That is what I meant when I said:

>The currently available software is fantastic in terms of speed and accuracy,
>but does make certain assumptions about the level of technical skill and
>motivation of its users.

I realise that this may not initially sound very appealing to those who sell
multiple copies of satellite software, but the trend is inevitable. Because
the raw data ties the application so strongly to the internet, this could be
a good example of a pay-per-use application. (5 cents per visible pass? <g>).

Another advantage of this approach is that all the users would by definition
be using the same, latest element sets.

I know that the serious hobbyist will want to take more control of the
software and the data, but I am describing what a casual observer might want
to do, and for whom the "activation energy barrier" is currently way too high.

But until then, I will download some satellite software, update my
"favourite" satellites list, and wait for the clouds to go away...

regards

Dave Ziemann