Re: Terminology, controversy, flare, NORAD, altitude, etc.

Sun, 5 Oct 1997 19:20:49 -0400 (EDT)

I've had this discussion before, but am willing to revive it if needed. 
We have agreed on some, and disagreed on other points.

On Sun, 5 Oct 1997, Walter Nissen wrote:

> Jim Varney writes: 
> > "For the last couple of years on SeeSat I thought the general 
> > convention was to use the word "glint" to mean any bright, singular 
> > short-lived flash of reflected sunlight.  IMHO "glint" is a more 
> > precise term than "flare" because it accurately describes the 
> > mechanism of the flash of light we see. 


Flash is a quick sharp blast of light, such as photo flash bulb.
Flare is a more gradual rise/decrease in brightness.
Glint is reflection.

Glint is what the light is.  Flash is what it looks like.

>  "specular" is used 
> when the variation in brightness is so great as to suggest that a 
> mirror-like surface is reflecting the sun. 
> (Summary: a glint is a single flash; specular is like a mirror). 


> The term "altitude" has long been used by astronomers to denote the 
> complement of the "zenith distance" (a term with its own serious 
> problems). 

I agree with this usage in astronomy.
However, in looking at literature dating back to the first satellites, 
'elevation' has been used for apparent angular distance of satellite above 
horizon. 'altitude' is actual height of satellite above surface of earth.
Whatever the use in astronomy, for 40 years this has been use of these 
terms in astronautics/space/satellites.

I'm not the one to change them.

It's something like rotate/revolve.  In common usage, these words are 
interchangeable.  In astronomy, they mean 2 different, specific things.
We can't say they should have the same meanings in astronomy just to 
match common usage.

> I think the IGU(?), International Geophysical Union(?) and the AGU 
> recommend essentially the same thing, allowing negatives for the West, 
> and that there is very general agreement about this.  Use of West 
> longitude is obsolete. 
> > Who uses it? Almost nobody... 
> > I do. 
> Many organizations use East. 
> (Summary:  Use East longitude). 

I have not seen other than West Long in any common usage. West longitude 
is not only NOT obsolete, it is the only terminolgy being used.

I have no problem with it being changed though, if the world agrees and 
accepts the change.

> (Summary: azimuth should be measured East from North). 


> Re: Iridia vs. Iridiums (fingernails scraping upon a blackboard): 

I'll go with whatever linguists say is correct.

> Re: amateur 
> In astronomical usage, this is an extremely unpleasant word, and should be 

To me, the difference between amateur/professional is being paid to do 

> The term NORAD seems to have outlived its usefulness.  I've noticed that 
> the catalog which NORAD began, and which US SPACECOM continues, is so 
> comprehensive that it has shoved away all competitors, so that usually the 
> term "NORAD catalog number" means no more than the term "catalog number". 
> Therefore, the general rule is simply to delele the "NORAD".  This is good 
> because "NORAD" is a doubly-troublesome term:  it is jargon (possibly an 
> unfamiliar acronym) and it is now obsolete. 
> (Summary: don't use "NORAD"). 

I wouldn't use "NORAD catalog number", but "NORAD" is shorter than "catalog 
number".  We all know NORAD means catalog #. If it must be changed, 
SPACECOM is the current term.  NORAD is shorter and therefore may be more 

> "elements", "elset", "keps", "TLE", and "2LN" are all used to denote the 
> same thing. 
> (Summary:  We don't need both TLE and 2LN.  Pick one.  "elset" is good.) 

TLE is the most widely used, short and accurate description of Two Line 
Elements. Use TLE.

> Kosmos, Cosmos, C*, C, K, C., K., Cos, Ksms, etc., etc.  Pick one, and a 
> useful abbreviation.  Stop being silly. 

Simple and short. The English word is Cosmos. Abbreviate C as in C2082.

> Perfection is unachievable.  

I can never get there?  So I should stop striving?  I thought I was 
almost there.   :)

> (Summary:  Let's fix these problems, respecting different ideas, and using 
> logic to resolve the inconsistencies.) 


> Please feel free to reproduce this message, and its call for discussion, 
> in any other appropriate forum, such as sci.astro (Jay?), 

Since this is the group most concerned with satellites, I would keep the 
discussion on seesat, and go with whatever we decide.

Jay Respler
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