Re: Why do people look at satellites? (LONG!)

From: Robert Holdsworth (
Date: Fri Sep 09 2011 - 09:49:11 UTC

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    To answer this I will have to repeat some of what I said in my intro some 
    years ago.
    I am ancient enough to have seen the first Sputnik (from what I have heard 
    and read since it was probably in fact the rocket!) - all the neighbours 
    were also out looking at or for it.
    I took an interest in the manned space program when it was little more than 
    a dream, I deeply regret that a scrapbook I kept of the early training of 
    astronauts went missing somewhere amongst various moves in dwellings.
    Later as a radio ham I communicated via the Oscar satellites, and had the 
    privilege of talking to one of the Mir cosmonauts (I know I am off topic 
    with that sentence but it did influence what follows!)  I did want to see 
    the Mir etc but didn't know about things like the earth's shadow and times 
    for illuminated passes.
    In more recent years I did a bit more research on the web as to how and when 
    to observe satellites, and began (as a lot of people do) with the ISS and 
    then Iridium flares.  I worked up from there, though things like IOD format 
    and PPAS are still out of my league at present. It is fun to look at what 
    comes over that has been predicted and hope to see something that hasn't,  I 
    particularly keep an eye on anything which is close to decay.   Highlights 
    for me have been seeing the shuttle tucked up close to the ISS just before 
    docking, and watching a Main Engine Restart of the rocket with a NOSS 
    satellite (at the time the ground track was made public, that is not likely 
    to happen these days!)
    I have had the privilege of meeting an astronaut, without having got into 
    satellite observation I doubt whether I would have taken that opportunity. 
    I have also been in fairly constant contact via Facebook with our local 
    observatory who is taking a keen interest in the space program, and this has 
    resulted in a few more observers.  I have also met people responsible for 
    launching (off-topic!) sounding rockets in New Zealand.  (Unfortunately we 
    don't have the facilities to launch anything which will be on-topic at this 
    stage, we do have one New Zealand satellite possibly planned but it would be 
    launched outside this country.)
    Everyone probably has their own reasons, but I think "because they are 
    there" and for the enjoyment and satisfaction of it would be common themes- 
    it is also fun to show others what's up there when they are not already 
    aware of it!
    Robert Holdsworth
    New Zealand
    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: "Roger" <>
    To: "SeeSat-L" <>
    Sent: Friday, September 09, 2011 8:30 AM
    Subject: Why do people look at satellites?
    > Just wondering, what's the reason some of you watch satellites, work
    > related?  Purely hobbiest?
    > Any goals for people,anybody have a 'must see' list they try to
    > complete?   I've been lurking for a few years, so I know some of you
    > specialize in types of satellites.   Even if I don't post, I do
    > appreciate some of the observations people make.
    > I first started intentionally seeking out satellites back in Sky-lab
    > days.    Later on, after the shuttle missions started, I started
    > watching those when I could.    I did manage to catch the Mir before
    > it came back down.
    > Lately, I've been more of a watcher, than try to figure out what I
    > saw.   I do want to try for the hubble when I'm far enough south, but
    > usually have to wait for vacation for that.
    > ~44N  ~123W
    > Roger
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