Celestia and satellite orbits

From: Tom Wagner (sciteach@mchsi.com)
Date: Sun Oct 29 2006 - 01:42:15 EDT

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    Not too long ago I gave up trying to get the Starry Night planetarium 
    program to work on my home computer. Now even though, with the help of the 
    computer guy at school, I finally got it to work there, I decided that the 
    lack of controls in the preferences made the only version I thought we could 
    afford to get multiple licenses for, not worth having. I simply wanted to 
    show orbital planes but the "realistic" satellites were so small that they 
    were barely visible. Then I investigated Celestia, a free program. I found 
    that Grant Hutchison made a spread sheet that would allow a single TLE to be 
    input into the program. One TLE was not enough and I didn't want to add them 
    one at a time. So, after many hours of work I finally succeeded in making it 
    possible to convert 20 TLEs at a time to a format that can be used with 
    Celestia. For a test run I uploaded 13 Iridium satellites that are all in 
    one orbital plane. I made each 50 km across so that they would be easily 
    visible when orbiting the Earth as seen from space. I sped up the time 
    considerably as well. I'm amazed at how spectacular Celestia is at showing 
    the nature of satellite orbits. It's a beautiful program and it's absolutely 
    free!   A great option for a school where teachers were told not to spend 
    any more $ than we have to this year.
    
    
    
    These Molniya satellites are really neat when seen flying together!
    
    MOLNIYA 3-51
    1 26867U 01030A   06301.32076550 -.00000050  00000-0 -40245-3 0  9402
    2 26867  64.1340 329.7943 7408077 276.4258 149.8586  2.00661717 38634
    MOLNIYA 1-92
    1 27707U 03011A   06301.85358639  .00000402  00000-0 -68679-3 0  3366
    2 27707  64.7716 329.2918 7401174 280.6712 159.0330  2.00636842 26190
    MOLNIYA 3-53
    1 27834U 03029A   06301.66828233 -.00000029  00000-0 -24279-3 0  2090
    2 27834  64.7686 329.2815 7405857 281.2835  40.5620  2.00635274 24617
    
    Does anyone know of any Molniya satellites that fly over an area one after 
    the other that I could show my students the orbits of? Isn't that the way 
    they work?
    
    
    
    Thanks in advance!
    
    
    
    Tom  Iowa  USA
    
    
    
    
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