Introduction and 3-satellite formation

From: Lance D. Pickup (
Date: Mon Oct 21 2002 - 14:55:48 EDT

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    Hello...I just subscribed to the list and am probably committing a faux
    pas by posting before lurking for awhile to get a feel for the types of
    posts, but hey, the introduction letter said it would be appreciated
    if I gave a short note of introduction.
    My name is Lance Pickup and I'm a very novice satellite observer, meaning
    that I mainly do it for fun when the mood strikes.  My first experience
    satellite hunting was probably about 20 years ago when as a teenager my
    aunt took me outside and told me that if I looked hard enough I could
    see satellites.  Furthermore, as a kid I grew up on Satellite Circle
    in Olean, NY.
    I usually enjoy hunting satellites when I am camping.  For that reason I
    have been interested in seeing more tracking programs for Palm Pilot type
    platforms, and until just recently I was disappointed not to find any.
    I will have to check out the one that I have recently seen.
    Anyway, what prompted me to go in search of satellite tracking groups/
    info was about a month ago (it's been a long search :-) as I was camping
    with some friends, we were out on Ricker Pond, VT in a canoe admiring
    a very nice northern lights display when my friend (even more of an amateur
    than me) pointed out a formation of three sats flying almost directly
    overhead, travelling from north to south.  I was astounded as I had never 
    seen such a thing.
    I have discovered information on the NOSS trios, which appears to be
    the most reasonable explanation, however there are problems with that
    explanation, not the least of which is after doing a "prediction" search
    on that night of all 3 NOSS trios using Heavens Above, none of the
    passes seem to match up (is scanning back that far in time inherently
    inaccurate?)  The closest match is a pass of NOSS 2-3 on 9/14 at
    20:40:29 reaching a max elevation of 81 deg and mag 6.1, which is the
    brightest of all the passes, which is significant since the northern
    lights were still glowing somewhat decreasing visibility.  But this pass
    was predicted about an hour and a half before my observation!  The next
    predicted pass was only 20 minutes after my observation, but it only
    reached a max elevation of 17 degrees at a mag of 8.1.
    I was wondering if there are any other known trios of satellites out
    there that I should be researching?
    At any rate, it was a fantastic evening--one that I'll remember for
    quite some time.
    In case anyone is curious, my approximate location was at Lat: 44.233
    Long: -72.233 and the local time was approximately 22:10 Eastern Daylight
    Time on 9/14/02 (my watch was not synchronized with anything).
    I'm looking forward to learning more about tracking satellites and am
    looking forward to actively tracking these trios in the future!
    Lance Pickup      O-        VNET/IBM Internet: lpickup@btv
    SiGe Digital & Mixed Signal          Internet:
    IBM Microelectronics                  ICQ UIN: 216830
    Burlington, VT                          Phone: (802) 769-7104 (tie 446)
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