Re: Using a laptop for sat Obs 4 the 1st time

From: Russ Bessom (
Date: Mon Dec 06 2004 - 03:40:50 EST

  • Next message: Russell Eberst: "DEC6.OBS"

    Hi Tom,
    Yes, I'm still here, but lurking more than observing, due to my new job.
    Glad to see you're enjoying the laptop observing method.  Actually, allot of
    people are doing it this way, I just made it a little more easier by making
    a mount to hold the laptop on my surveyor tripod.  Then I don't have to run
    back and forth from the laptop to the binos.  I merely look down at the red
    screen on the computer, then back up in the binos.  Really neat!  I am now
    working on a big parallelogram mount to hold a pair of Steiner 15x80 mil
    binos.  By the way, I just upgraded to Sky 6 and have some advise for you.
    Keep your Sky 5!  The Sky 6 looks a little nicer but falls short in the
    satellite department.  They have excluded allot of features that we have
    groan accustomed to in the Sky 5.  I have my Sky 5 and 6 loaded on the same
    notebook and very rarely go to Sky 6.
    An interesting story; We have an observatory a couple of miles away at a
    German College and one night I went out there and brought my equipment:
    20x-40x-100mm Myauchis, tripod, laser finder and computer running the Sky,
    set up to find satellites. I showed them EGP and some other flashers and
    pretty much got everybody out of the observatory and into the parking lot
    where my stuff was set up!  They all showed high interest in Sat observing.
    Maybe we'll have some new German members to See Sat!
    Take care Tom,
    Russ Bessom
    Zweibruecken Germany
    49°14’00.0N  07°19’00.0E
    325m, -1 UTC
    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: "Tom Wagner" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Saturday, December 04, 2004 7:00 PM
    Subject: Using a laptop for sat Obs 4 the 1st time
    > Finally, I purchased a laptop and used it to aid in observing satellites
    > real time. Last night (Dec 3/04) the temperature was low, my hands were
    > freezing cold and my computer was set atop a towel on the hood of my
    > I was parked at +42D 24M 50S by -92D 22M 0S just N of Eagle Center, Iowa.
    > The time was approaching 6 PM local time. I had plugged in only the
    > satellites obtained from McCants' files. As I watched satellites cross the
    > computer screen I tried to find them in the sky. It was much easier to
    > locate them with my low power night vision scope initially but after using
    > that scope, one eye had no night vision for binoculars. I spotted several
    > objects. It still was not easy finding them when there were no
    > stars close by. When two passed through the zenith I was surprised how
    > that was! Not used to cranking my cervical vertebra that much. Most of the
    > sats were about 2 seconds late but traveled right along the line where
    > were predicted to travel.
    > Using the software, TheSky, I time-skipped ahead hoping to find a pair of
    > satellites passing close to each other but found none at an acceptable
    > altitude. However, as I watched the Cosmos 44 rocket body travel through
    > Cetus low in the eastern sky I saw a second satellite (one not on my
    > computer screen) approach it. To my delight they passed within .44 degrees
    > of each other! The time of closest approach was 17:49:57 local time or
    > 23:49:57 UTC.
    > What was that other satellite I wondered? I then, for the first time, when
    > got home downloaded the satellite data for all LEO objects from McCants. I
    > selected the lot and low and behold, amongst the myriad of sats, I found
    > very close to Cosmos 44! It was ADEOS 1. I ran the simulation and saw
    > exactly what had happened in the sky. All excited, I took my laptop to a
    > basketball game at the school where I teach. For a few students I ran the
    > simulation. They too were delighted.
    > The TLEs I used follow:
    > Cosmos 44 Rocket
    > 1 00877U 64053B   04336.51517110 +.00000075 +00000-0 +41327-4 0 07527
    > 2 00877 065.0791 337.2295 0053253 114.9169 245.7477 14.57873041133522
    > ADEOS 1
    > 1 24277U 96046A   04338.63530245  .00000048  00000-0  35584-4 0  8285
    > 2 24277  98.2684 359.7435 0001888 100.3801 259.7595 14.28518428432414
    > I was pleased to experience this laptop usage for the first time after
    > hearing about what it was like as told by Russ Bessom some two years ago.
    > [By the way Russ, are you still out there?] After the show, totally off
    > topic here, I noticed a nicely defined 2-inch hole in the hard packed soil
    > in front of my truck. Being curious, I walked over to it and shone my
    > flashlight down the hole. Low and behold, there was a cute little field
    > mouse inside looking out at me. I said hi, apologized to him for the
    > disturbance, and left some crackers as compensation.
    > All in all a good night in the field, in a farmer’s field that is.
    > Tom  Iowa  USA
    > +  +   +
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