My two cents about satellite questions and SeeSat-L

Walter Nissen (dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Mon, 10 Jul 1995 14:29:53 -0400

> > I shall send it (in ASCII, not in MIME!) to anybody who will
> > ask for it at my address.

> Please send me a copy of your work.....

Alphonse, please send it to to me also.  Thank you making this available
by mail.  I would suggest asking Bart to make it available through the
"archive" mechanism.

> >Please accept my apologies for having sent long MIME messages.
> > I did not know it could disturb some of SEESAT-L users.

I accept your apology.  I believe your intentions were good, and at least
to a certain extent, they were appropriate.

> I wouldn't worry about it. Any one disturbed by long messages on a
> topic they have subscribed to is probably "disturbed" to begin with!

Tom,  I do not understand why people who are interested in visual
observing of satellites would be expected to want to read your comment
from their mail.  In my opinion, your comment should have been sent by
e-mail or otherwise.  (I guess I do appreciate knowing your opinion, even
if I don't agree with it, or its expression).

It is inappropriate to post extremely long messages on SeeSat-L.  It is
very appropriate to ask Bart to make such files available through the
archive mechanism.

Let me tell everyone why.  I don't know what a typical commercial service
charges for e-mail, but until a recent rate reduction, Compuserve was
charging US$20.97 per MB for e-mail received.  Bart and I are both
concerned that large files sent as messages may overburden some
subscribers.  We are particularly concerned about certain very busy people
who may make substantial contributions to the discussions from time to
time but who may not have the time every day or every week to plow through
a large number of messages.  When expense is added to the burden of
filing, deleting or other processing of messages, I think it is
understandable why we should all be respectful of the mail burden on all
subscribers represented by the list.  In my opinion, even lengthy sig
files frequently repeated can become part of the problem.  Bart and I
agree that one reason for the success of SeeSat-L is that it is a
relatively low volume list.

> > SEESAT-L is a marvellous forum.

> Here! Here!

Thank you.  I think we are all trying to make it better.

> From: (Dan Charrois)
> Subject: Satellite magnitudes

> I am wondering if anyone has compiled a list of "normal" satellite
> magnitudes.

This subject is covered in earlier messages available through the archive.
Besides QuickSat, with its catalog of intrinsic magnitudes so laboriously
compiled over the years by Mike (his catalog was cited 24 years ago in Sky
& Telescope magazine), the archive contains a list of magnitudes actually
observed from latitude 39.  Ted Molczan's file and the RCS values in the
Satellite Situation Report are other sources which, as I also said before,
are valuable in the absence of observations.  Jay Respler has very
graciously agreed to accept e-mail inquiries should these prove
inadequate.  And for flashers, nothing beats the lengthy tables in Flash,
e-Flash and disk-Flash for scope and timeliness.

> If nothing else, I'm looking for a list of some of the brighter
> objects.  Living as far north as I do, the summer nights don't

I think it safe to assume that there are quite a few subscribers to
SeeSat-L who would be quite surprised and quite excited to find out how
many satellites one can observe in a single evening by installing and
running QuickSat.  It isn't as sexy as some of the other programs and it
doesn't give a superficial appearance of being easy to use (followed
possibly by some disappointment when reality sets in), but it is highly
effective.  Besides a file of elsets, perhaps Ted Molczan's or VISUAL.TLE
from the Celestial BBS, you do need one of these three supplements to QS:
1) accurate setting circles (or something that enables you to point at any
given place in the sky, a well-calibrated neck would be ideal), -or-
2) a planetarium-type satellite display program which will enable you to
spot an object in front of a familiar star pattern (this is one good
feature of some other programs which have various problems when used for
visual tracking), -or-
3) a star atlas, preferably on just a few sheets, possibly supplemented
with Scotch Magic Tape #811 (the removable type, in the blue box) for
drawing paths.

Can someone who has used QS and the programs available from the BWGS
comment about the strong points of each?

> From: (Neil T. Clifford)
> Subject: Re: Spy Satellites - Listing available?

> |>Is a listing of known spy/military satellites available?  (I'm hoping
> |>for something that lists them by catalog number)
> You could look in the satellite situation report and make a list of all
> those for which 'elements are not available' ;-)

I don't understand the smiley.  I am pleased for you that you are having a
good time, and I wouldn't want to detract from that in any way.  In fact,
I'm having a good time.  8->  Still, haven't you given the precise
definition requested?  At least if you assume the question refers to USA
black satellites, as opposed to USA open military satellites, non-USA
military satellites, etc.?

> Below is a rather large file which is used by Mike McCants and his QUICKSAT
> program for satellite tracking/observing. Mike likes to say his program
> makes a special effort to get satellite magnitudes more correct than some
> of the other programs out there.
> 00001 d Desig...  Name.......... Mag.  Sz1 Sz2 Sz3 RCS Comments
> 00005   58 B2     Vanguard 1      8.0  0.2 0.0 0.0 .13

This file, which, as I opined here a few months back, is the single best
available source for satellite magnitudes, is already available from the
SeeSat-L archive, together with the entire QuickSat program.  Send subject
"archive help" to

I know of no single, certain, universally applicable rule which will
determine the appropriateness of a message for SeeSat-L.  Some balance
must be achieved among length, topicality, universality of appeal, and
urgency.  I don't know that there is necessarily any upper limit on the
length of a file, if its immediate distribution is something that will be
welcomed and appreciated by a large majority of SeeSat-L subscribers.  I
think a file of 80 KB already available from the archive is not a strong
candidate.  I thank Bart for his efforts to reduce the length of the
monthly e-Flash posting from about 50 KB to about 15 KB.  Whenever
possible, long files should be put in the archive and an annoucement
message posted on SeeSat-L.  I thank Bart for being willing to do this for
satellite-related files, especially because I believe that it
significantly enhances the attractiveness of a subscription to SeeSat-L.

I apologize to everyone for having burdened you with the meta-discussion
in this message, and for the length of this message, and would suggest
that we continue the "tradition" of carrying on most meta-discussion by
e-mail rather than on SeeSat-L.  When the available resources (like the
archive and the visual observers web page, are found
wanting, SeeSat-L is a great place to ask questions.  Bart and I both
welcome e-mail about SeeSat-L, including inquiries concerning
appropriateness.  And we both want to keep SeeSat-L interesting, friendly
and highly informative.  (Bart, I think perhaps some of what I have said
here may need to appear in the response to "subscribe" requests, if it
doesn't already).  And nothing that I have said here should be taken to
discourage the exploitation of SeeSat-L as a rapid, newsy medium for the
discussion of interesting satellite observations by interesting people.
Keep all the good stuff coming.  And my personal thanks for all the good
stuff so far.  And do let us know what you are up to.


Walter Nissen              216-243-4980