Astronomy and Earth Satellites - Robert Sheaffer

Information and links on astronomy and to help you observe and identify, satellites in earth orbit.

NEWS: Nov. 8, 2004: "Best of the Sky" recommendations added to my 32-bit Windows program RTGUI+S, Real-Time Interactive software for Astronomical Observers, which finds celestial objects rapidly and accurately and controls most Goto telescopes.

My photo of the moon, eyepiece projection with
Olympus D-460Z digital camera and 12.5" telescope

My moon photo, March 31, 2001

Visit and generate a list of satellite passes visible from San Diego, CA (or specify another location).

This list should match reasonably well with those satellites you will actually see when you are outdoors observing. The limiting magnitude is set to 4.0, to prevent the list from growing impossibly long, yet it still include those satellites that should be readily visible from urban sites. If you are observing under dark skies, you will see far more satellites than this. Considerable uncertainties exist because of unknown and/or variable satellite magnitudes. Sometimes the brightness of a particular satellite will vary by a magnitude or more on different passes, owing to the irregular shape of the object. This can result in a predicted satellite pass not being visible, or in the visibility of an object not predicted.

Liftoff - NASA's new 3-D Java Satellite Orbit Simulation Program.

The (bankrupt!) Iridium communications satellites are producing brilliant solar reflections, sometimes outshining Jupiter or even Venus. To learn more about them, visit the Iridium observer's page. The above link to Heavens Above allows you to predict when they can be seen.

My photo of enormous sunspot group, eyepiece projection with
Olympus D-460Z digital camera and 60mm solar filter on 12.5" telescope

Huge sunspots, March 31, 2001

Visit the Visual Satellite Observer's Home Page.

Willie Koorts' huge collection of Satellite Observing and Astronomy-Related stuff.

Visit Mike McCants' page to download a copy of QUICKSAT.ZIP or other satellite-related software. Generate your own custom predictions! (To do this you'll need the latest copy of satellite Two-line Element Sets to obtain accurate satellite positions.)

Astronomy Sources

My Orion Short-Tube 90 refractor on a Celestron 114 "GoTo" mount

My Orion Short-Tube 90 refractor on a Celestron 114 GoTo mount Visit The Astronomy Connection, a group for Northern California observers.

Visit the San Diego Astronomical Association.

The San Jose Astronomical Association.

The privately-owned Grasslands Observatory of Tim Hunter and James McGaha.

Dan Purrington's excellent page of Astronomy Resources on the Web

Remember that no matter what you may see or hear in some ad, star names are not really for sale! Only the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is recognized for "naming" celestial objects, and they make it absolutely clear that if you think you've "bought" a star name, you have been fleeced.

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