Re: Easier way of identifying unknowns...?

Ed Cannon (
Thu, 20 Mar 1997 03:23:45 -0600

At the risk of belaboring this topic too much, I'll go ahead and mention
that 13 months ago I was not familiar with the term "azimuth" -- much less
"TLE" and any number of other terms and concepts used in visual satellite
observing.  (I'm still weak on RA and DEC, RAAN, argument of perigee, etc....)

ESES was one of the first satellite-prediction things I found on the
Internet, and once I learned what azimuth and a few other terms mean, I was
able to use it.  And it did not require getting, installing and using a
program or knowing anything at all about elsets. 

Perhaps it's because I've had the benefit of a lot of expert explanations
and coaching from Mike McCants (and about the same time learned to make
better use an inexpensive planetarium program I had bought before), but I've
found that, even though just over 12 months ago I was a completely naive
newbie with almost no relevant background for satellite observing,
text-based predictions have proved to be quite usable.  To date, I've still
not done more than briefly view some demos of a few graphical programs (Home
Planet and Alphonse Pouplier's program, plus one or two others that have
been shown to me).

My point in my previous message was simply to suggest one "possibly easier"
way of identifying unknowns, and I'm still inclined to say that using ESES
may be easier for many newbies than getting a program and elements and
learning to use them, especially when the purpose is to identify one unknown
object (which, chances are, would turn out to be one of the few brightest

If someone were to develop an online Web site that produced on-the-fly
graphical skytracks of satellites, that would obviously be a great service!

By the way, Don Barry, who created and maintains ESES, has written to me
that its usefulness for after-the-fact object-checking is limited to only a
brief time due to its using only pretty current elements.

Good predictions and viewing to all!

Ed Cannon
Austin, Texas, USA
30.308N, 97.728W