Video satellite observing...

From: Scott Tilley (
Date: Thu May 24 2012 - 06:29:19 UTC

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    Hi All
    Motivated by Cees Bassa's recent work, I've been playing with methods to 
    improve the sensitivity of my video satellite observing station and 
    comparing these to the old fashioned way of noticing glowing dots of 
    light scoot across a monitor...
    I wrote a simple Freeframe video 'effect' that displays only  the 
    maximum pixel values on streaming video.  This technique allows a video 
    camera to behave like a standard 'still' camera.
    What's a Freeframe?  Its an open source means of creating custom video 
    effects for many 'real time' video presentation software packages often 
    used in live performances (akin to chasing satellites under the stars).  
    I have found software such as Resolume very effective for both recording 
    real time video reliably but also performing real time and post 
    processing of satobs video.  More information about Freeframes and how 
    to use them can be found here:
    I dug through my mini-archive of the 'usual suspects' for subjects to 
    test the effect on.  On September 3rd, 2011, I recorded a few minutes of 
    video of Atlas Centaur R/B 6779 which dramatically shows what the effect 
    6779's flash interval that day was ~9.54 seconds as measured from an 
    average of about 26 flashes.  The flashes where much dimmer on every 
    other flash as zooming into the image shows...  Raw video (320MB) 
    available on request.
    My maximum value free frame can be found here:
    LEO s/c with brightness variations are nicely presented with this effect 
    too.  Although I'm still discovering that raw video under the stars is 
    still the best means of detecting motion from very dim s/c.  No 
    processing I've tried seems to improve upon this.  I'm glad Cees is 
    working on this problem as his experiments show clear promise of 
    advancing the state of the art.
    Scott Tilley
    Seesat-l mailing list

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