top ten visual satellites

Philip Chien (
Tue, 21 May 1996 00:39:16 -0400

I've got to agree that any list will certainly be subjective, and vary
depending on the observer's particular interests and location.

It's much to arbitrary to say that any list should only include satellites
which are visible from 40 degrees North, or only ones which are in orbit
for very long periods.  And if you're latitude challenged - then change
your latitude.

My personal interest is satellites, especially ones which I've seen in
person on the ground before launch, or ones with some professional
interest.  I've got very little interest in rocket bodies.

But here's my top ten visual satellites (off the top of my head and
stopping at ten, I'm certain that given another minute I could easily
rattle off another 20 or so):

Intelsat 6-3 (of course only visible to the naked eye while it was in its
"parking" orbit)
Eureca - one rare case where I've seen a satellite on the ground, in orbit,
and after it was retrieved.
Lacrosee 1

I've got many more favorite satellites - but ones which are in orbits too
high to be easily visible.

I do suspect that I'm going to have another favorite to add to this list -
in about 4.5 hours if the weather cooperates - the inflatable antenna
experiment (IAE) from the current shuttle mission.

Philip Chien, Earth News - space writer and consultant  PCHIEN@IDS.NET
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