From: Matson, Robert (ROBERT.D.MATSON@saic.com)
Date: Mon Jul 21 2003 - 20:34:59 EDT

  • Next message: Kevin Fetter: "Heavens above"

    Hi Art and List,
    I thought I'd say a few words in defense of Chris Peat and his
    Heavens Above service.  H-A has probably done more to introduce
    new people to our little hobby of satellite observing than any
    software program that preceded it.  He has put together a system
    whereby someone who has little or no astronomical experience (or
    patience for learning to install and run satellite propagation
    software) can successfully observe a satellite the very first
    clear night that they try.  So H-A was specifically designed
    with beginners in mind, and in this area it performs exceptionally
    Most people are perfectly content with H-A's capabilities and
    simplicity of operation, but there are a few people like Art who
    become intrigued enough by the hobby that they want to "push the
    envelope" a bit and attempt more difficult objects, achieve higher
    positional and/or photometric accuracies, or try more unusual
    types of observations (conjunctions, transits, shadow-entry/exit
    timings, identification of unknowns, flashing GEO sat timings, etc.)
    For such people, I strongly encourage them to do as Art has done
    and download one or more of the powerful freeware and shareware
    tools that are available for general-purpose satellite propagation.
    Since you mentioned that you're an old "DOS-head", Art, you might
    enjoy playing around with my SkyMap satellite software.  The program
    has a lot of features, so there is a learning curve to overcome, but
    if you are comfortable with text editors and making minor changes
    to CONFIG.SYS (adding the ANSI.SYS device driver), you should have
    minimal difficulties.
    I'll let this message also serve as an announcement to all that I've
    posted SkyMap version 6.6 to my webspace for anyone who wants to
    download it.  I had originally hoped to add a few more features
    before this release, but I don't expect to have any significant
    time to work on it over the next few months, so now's as good
    a time as any to freeze a version.
    There have been a number of changes since version 6.5, so read
    through the first page or two of SKY66.NEW to see what's been
    fixed/added.  The ZIP files to download are:
    I've also updated the epoch of the asteroid orbital elements,
    which is zipped separately for those who want the latest:
    New users will also want to download the Hipparcos star files:
    Stars of magnitude +8.5 or brighter:
    and stars dimmer than magnitude +8.5:
    Any current users who would like their registered executables
    updated, please contact me and I'll be happy to send you a
    Best wishes,
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