IMPORANT request about Iridium

Philip Chien (
Thu, 30 Oct 1997 14:01:36 -0400

As most of you know I am a full-time professional writer, writing about the
aerospace business.  And it isn't surprising that many of us on SeeSat are
in the business.

However amateur satellite watching has always been my hobby, and I keep my
work and my hobby separate.  Neverthless I have written about amateur
satellite observing in the past.

Somebody previously made the comment that "Sky & Telescope" might want to
publish ground tracks of the Iridiums showing when they flare.  Well - in a
word yes.  Several weeks earlier I had submitted a proposal to them about
the Iridium and just how incredible they can be to observe.  And they have
indicated that they would like an article from me to appear in an upcoming

Okay, here's where the conflict of interest comes in to play.  I am aware
of various folks subscribed to SeeSat who have used information gleamed
from public postings to SeeSat as part of their professional work without
first obtaining permission from the poster(s).  To me that is unethical and
one of the lowest forms of theft.  (It's also pretty stupid unless you can
verify the information elsewhere.  Always take what you receive via what's
basically anonymous E-mail with a grain of salt.).

So I am formally announcing my intent to publish such an article.  I will
be sending private E-mails to those whos observations I would like to
include in my article and those whos postings are of interest.

If anybody specifically does not want to be mentioned in my article then
feel free to contact me via private E-mail, or publicly if you wish.  Not
contacting me WILL NOT be construed as permission to go ahead and publish
the information which you've provided to the SeeSat list.  I will only use
information which somebody's personally provided to the list with that
person's permission.

Naturally this does not apply if it's information which I've derived by
myself independently or received elsewhere.

I do intend to mention SeeSat, both the WWW site and listserver in my
article, hopefully this will encourage amateur astronomers who have always
considered satellites to be 'interference' to get interested in observing
them too.

I've never stated this before but personally I am amazed at the detective
work which was performed to determine what causes the flashes, and the
spherical trig which is required to calculate just when the flashes occur.

Thank you for your cooperation.  We now return you to your ongoing
discussions on Titan IVs, NORAD vs. COSPAR, and shuttle / Mir observations.

Philip Chien [M1959.05.31/31.145//]