Eurosom2 - Saturday quick(!) summary [LONG/SOCIAL]

Neil Clifford (
Sat, 26 Oct 1996 18:47:10 +0100 (BST)

For those of you who missed Eurosom 2 here is a quick (?) summary of the
events/seminars/discussions derived from the few notes I made, what's
left of my memory (pass the Duvel Bart) and the bits of paper I picked
up off my desk. Apologies for those not suitably credited or for those
whose facts I have distorted. Further apologies for poor spelling and

Friday: Most of us managed to find the hotel....once we were sure most
of us had arrived we proceeded to acquaint ourselves with the food and
nightlife of Ghent.


0930 (well a bit later but I wasn't timing it...)
 Jan Vansteelandt - Introduction

10 minutes later
 Mike McCants (Texas USA) - Talked about his observing programs -
 classified sats, flash periods (DRA involvement), optical
 characteristics of sats. Mike also demo-ed his Robic SC-800 50 memory
 stopwatch (Bruno Tilgner [I think it was] played his trump card in the 
 form of a 100 memory stopwatch - anyone want to place a higher bid).

A bit later (hazy memory already and the weekend had only just begun)
 Freddy de Guchteneire (AMSAT Germany [I think]) - talked about the
 impending re-entry of Oscar 13. Expected December 8 probably over the US
 near perigee. Bjoern (Gimle) expressed surprise/admiration/doubt/??
 over the prediction decay date which had apparently been calculated some
 2 years in advance [I really hope that I'm getting these things correct
 - I must have lost a few brain cells over the weekend]. Apparently the
 computation was performed by James Miller of Cambridge University on
 a Cray-(insert_some_impressive_model_number_here) computer. Bjoern and
 Alan both decided that they might well opt out of competing with that.
 At the moment AMSAT are generating elsets by radio range-finding the
 vehicle (and thus *key point* it would be wiser to use their elsets
 rather than NORADs - that is until about mid November when the radio is
 expected to expire due to thermal stress - and then viaual tracking will
 of course be quite useful...though AMSAT themselves won't be interested
 once the radio is no more). (see

Sometime after a caffeine injection (perhaps about 1100)
 Kurt Jonckheere (Belgium, BWGS) - explained how he arrives at his
 accleration warnings (or Kurt Alerts as Paul Maley likes to call them).
 Taking the last six Molczan elsets (a, b, c, d, e, f; f the most recent)
 he uses the mean motion of a-e to predict MM of f. If the difference is
 significant (a function of the orbit (eccentricity etc) and vehicle
 type) then he issues a Kurt Alert. 

Apparently lunch came next....

Around 1330 (but in reality probably 10 or 15 minutes later)
 Paul Maley (Texas USA) - started the first of his low light video
 epics. Paul described his system and showed extensive footage. He
 reminded us that one of our objectives should be to educate the public
 (in the face of some really 10th rate tabloid style journalism) and
 showed some clips of his own video as used by major US broadcasters.
 Clips shown include Cosmos 1659 quick look spysat, an artificial comet
 (barium release part of AMPTE experiment), glonass, EGP and various
 geostationary objects. Paul showed further video throughout the weekend
 and almost certainly had a 2nd slot on Saturday but I can't rememebr
 what he showed then and what was shown on Sunday so I'll leave the rest
 until part 2.

Just before 1600(?)
 Bart de Pontieu (Munich, Germany) - Bart described the DRA
 determination of rotation axis project. Using near simultaneous
 observations by >1 person of the same satellite attempts had been made
 to identify the rotation axis (Bart described the results of processing
 one simulated data set and several real satellites). The conclusion
 seemed to be that the axis was hard to determine in many cases (except
 where synodic anomalies occur) and some further work was needed. Details
 of the DRA were published in a recent edition of Flash
 ( Bart recommended
 that contributors to the DRA make their observations over as large an
 arc of the pass as possible and preferably take 20 or more data points
 (flash timings) at least.
Next came a discussion on organising satellite observers
 internationally. Well that was what it was supposed to be. Bart and I
 mentioned about creation of the FAQ and how this could be allied to the
 web site in that the authors resonsible for the FAQ sections might be
 persuaded to caretake the correspnding web pages. I asked whether it
 might be appropriate to provide a suitable conduit for channeling
 positional observations from up and coming observers to those generating
 elsets (eg in the case of classified satellites) in a manner not
 dissimilar to that used for flash observations. Pierre Neirinck
 suggested that (in his and also Russell Eberst's opinions) a number of
 the older satellites had dropped noticably in visual magnitude in the
 last 2-3 years. One suggested cause was pollution. I asked whether the
 debris environment might not be resonsible for altering the surface
 characteristics of the satellites in question (recalling Paul Maley
 describing how the TSS-1R tether had been scoured by fine pieces of
 debris and was consequently much brighter than expected - at this point
 Paul produced a piece of the original TSS-1 tether for everyone's
 fascination and enjoyment). Another issue raised was with the
 information content of seesat-l itself. Some argued for more emphasis on
 research projects with higher technical content whilst others welcomed
 the social interaction and perhaps the community spirit that it
 encouraged. [this author feels that there is a place for both types of
 posting - but I strongly suggest any discussion on this subject be held
 on usesat-l rather than in follow-ups to this]. For some it was
 suggested that the use of some filtering or folder mechanism might aid
 them in sorting out seesat-l from their other mail and thus help them in
 picking out the signal from the noise in the posts. The hypermail
 archive ( was pointed
 out as being useful for picking out postings by subject (but not if a
 good subject was chosen) - I promised to add a search engine eg glimpse
 in order to improve this. The possibility of placing the PPAS in
 browsable form on the web was also discussed - so people could for
 example search for a history of observations on an object by object
Next up...around 1730 by now (at least)
 Bjoern Gimle (Sweden) - Bjoern described his location and observing
 methods - he outlined his work on orbital decays and described the
 models he uses for prediction. The whole presentation was done using
 netscape and will be on the web shortly
 ( Quite a bit of material and not
 surprising I guess since he was at his laptop 24hours a day or so it 
 seemed ;-)
and so we retired for food and a comprehensive survey of Belgian beer, 
pubs which don't pay their electricity bills on time and bike sheds.

Sunday a-coming in part 2....please followup organisational issues
raised on usesat-l leaving seesat-l for dicussion of issues more closely
related to observing.

best wishes!

Neil Clifford                             <>