RE: LEO satellite tracking with a Meade telescope

From: Andy Kirkham (
Date: Wed Dec 15 2004 - 17:23:17 EST

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    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: Thomas Fly []
    > Sent: 15 December 2004 20:03
    > To: SeeSat-L
    > Subject: LEO satellite tracking with a Meade telescope
    > In prior (not very recent) attempts to track the ISS with my 
    > Meade LXD55 scope, it failed miserably, "tracking" into the
    > ground, rather than the sky.
    > I'd downloaded the Java serial I/O library, and had been playing 
    > with issuing Autostar commands, using a simple demo
    > program that comes with that library, when I discovered an update 
    > to the firmware (Autostar model #497 version 33Ef,
    > 12/6/04):
    > In testing with TLEs for a couple recent ISS passes, the new 
    > version appears basically to work (though I can't easily
    > determine how accurately); though in both cases, it stopped 
    > tracking when it appeared that further tracking would cause
    > the OTA to smack into the tripod (there doesn't seem to be a way 
    > to choose which of the 2 possible sections- separated
    > by a tripod collision- of a pass to track).
    > That problem had occurred to me, in thinking about how to 
    > implement my own tracking software.  One way to give the
    > telescope free reign over the sky would be to effectively convert 
    > the equatorial mount to an altitude-azimuth mount, by
    > mounting it to a post, with the RA axis vertical.  However, 
    > passes near the zenith would require a high rate of RA slew,
    > during which the satellite might be lost (at least temporarily).
    > Alternatively, one could have a pseudo altitude-azimuth 
    > arrangement, by making the RA axis horizontal, and (most simply)
    > parallel or perpendicular to the path of the satellite.
    > Just using a post mount, rather than the tripod, would mitigate 
    > the tripod collision problem, of course.
    > I'd be interested in hearing about any existing solution to this 
    > problem, as well as any successes people may have had
    > using Autostar.
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