What to use for satellite viewing?

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thunderstix33

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<p>I am really new to satellite viewing. I started at the end of May when we were in the middle of the ISS Marathon. I thought it was really cool to see the ISS that close right above my head. And the fact that it was super quiet made it a little weird (in a good way). But I digress...</p><p>Because I am new to the satellite viewing group, I'm in need of a little help. I have been told that with the right equipment you can see the actual satellites and not just the light reflecting off of them (i.e. see the full shape of the ISS, not just the orange/red glow).</p><p>I'm not looking to spend a ton of money (mostly because I don't have a ton). What is the best equipment to use to view strickly satellites? I have a pair of binoculars that I use for dim satellites (Nikon Action 10-22x50 3.8* at 10x), but I'm still only seeing a glow. The pair has been used a lot before I started using them, so they aren't in the best quality now.</p><p>I'm not looking to do too much star gazing, mostly because the area I live in does not allow for the best viewing as it is too bright most of the time.</p><p>Does anyone have any suggestions? </p><p>Thanks,</p><p>Mat </p>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>I am really new to satellite viewing. I started at the end of May when we were in the middle of the ISS Marathon. I thought it was really cool to see the ISS that close right above my head. And the fact that it was super quiet made it a little weird (in a good way). But I digress...Because I am new to the satellite viewing group, I'm in need of a little help. I have been told that with the right equipment you can see the actual satellites and not just the light reflecting off of them (i.e. see the full shape of the ISS, not just the orange/red glow).I'm not looking to spend a ton of money (mostly because I don't have a ton). What is the best equipment to use to view strickly satellites? I have a pair of binoculars that I use for dim satellites (Nikon Action 10-22x50 3.8* at 10x), but I'm still only seeing a glow. The pair has been used a lot before I started using them, so they aren't in the best quality now.I'm not looking to do too much star gazing, mostly because the area I live in does not allow for the best viewing as it is too bright most of the time.Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks,Mat <br />Posted by thunderstix33</DIV><br /><br />Really, only a few satellites are large enough to&nbsp;see the shape, even with the best equipment. You need a relatively high powered telescope that can track the satellite path, which you need to preload.</p><p>Depending on how you define "a ton of meney" it might not be in your range. You need a scope of probably 6" or more diameter with "Go To" capabilities, a CCD camera to mount on it, and all the requisite software.</p><p>My guess would be $2000 minimum, $4000 more likely, and that might be pretty conservative. Is that a ton of money to you?</p><p>Only the ISS is large enough to&nbsp;discern a shape&nbsp;by eye AFAIK, even if you have a scope that can track that fast.</p><p>Very few can track that fast. Even the largest binoculars don;t provide enough magnification.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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thunderstix33

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Really, only a few satellites are large enough to doscren the shape. You need a relatively high powered telescope that can track the satellite path, shich you need to preload.Depending on how you define "a ton of meney" it might not be in your range. You need a scope of probably 6" or more diameter with "Go To" capabilities, a CCD camera to mount on it, and all the requisite software.My guess would be $2000 minimum, $4000 more likely, and that might be pretty conservative. Is that a ton of money to you?Only the ISS is large enough to&nbsp;discern a shape&nbsp;by eye AFAIK, even if you have a scope that can track that fast. <br /> Posted by MeteorWayne</DIV></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Haha. Yeah. That would be a bit out of my price range. I guess my next question would be what would be the best set of binoculars or scopes to use for just general viewing? As I said earlier, the pair I have now in its final minutes of use, so I'll need to be getting a new pair anyway. Anything less than $500 is fine, and even slightly over that, but nothing more than $600 at the most. There is so much in the area of equipment that it is hard for me to choose something. </p><p>Thanks for the quick response. I appriciate the help. </p>
 
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CalliArcale

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>&nbsp;Haha. Yeah. That would be a bit out of my price range. I guess my next question would be what would be the best set of binoculars or scopes to use for just general viewing? As I said earlier, the pair I have now in its final minutes of use, so I'll need to be getting a new pair anyway. Anything less than $500 is fine, and even slightly over that, but nothing more than $600 at the most. There is so much in the area of equipment that it is hard for me to choose something. Thanks for the quick response. I appriciate the help. <br /> Posted by thunderstix33</DIV></p><p>Some experienced satellite viewers actually track the spacecraft *manually*.&nbsp; It takes a lot of practice and a very steady hand, though.&nbsp; ;-) </p><p>And even so, they don't get to look at it during the session.&nbsp; They take a series of still images and then "stack" them digitally afterwards to produce the equivalent of a long exposure shot, and then they finally get to see what the spacecraft looked like.&nbsp;&nbsp; They use large telescopes, so even going with the "cheap" method, you're looking at quite a bit of money.&nbsp; So for budget viewing, the best equipment is still your eyeballs. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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thunderstix33

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<p>That's cool. I'm not going to be so bummed about not seeing the whole spacecraft that I stop what I'm doing. So I don't mind just see a speck of light streaking across the sky because, let's face it, it's still cool to see something that WE put up there. Sorry for sounding like a little kid. I used to live about an hour from the Cape, so this stuff continues to facinate me, even though I live in the Heartland now. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Thanks for the responses Calli and Wayne. :) </p>
 
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aphh

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<p>I use standard 10 x 50 binoculars, that have field of view of 114 metres wide at the distance of 1000 metres. That is 6.5 degrees or 23 400 arc seconds. <br /><br />If you were in the right position below the path of the ISS, some 51.6 degrees North of the equator and the earth was aligned so that the ISS happened to pass directly above you, the distance would be roughly 345 000 metres.&nbsp;</p><p>The field of view of the binoculars at that distance would be 39 330 metres, over 39 kilometres wide. ISS being some 70 metres long would only fill 0.012 degrees of the field of view, which is equivalent to 43.2 arc seconds. According to this source http://www.cloudynights.com/item.php?item_id=1410 a hand-held 10 x 50 binoculars has the resolution of some 136 - 153 arc seconds.</p><p>This suggests, that the ISS should be roughly twice as big for the hand-held 10 x 50 binoculars to resolve any detail (when ISS is in zenith or directly above you). </p><p>&nbsp;</p>
 
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aphh

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<p>I just had a good hard look at the ISS with 10 * 50 binoculars, and I can confirm that no detail could be resolved with this optical aid. However, with the binoculars I could see the ISS for a lot longer time on a lot longer arc compared to naked eye.</p><p>Ofcourse the ISS here rises only 12 degrees over the horizon, so the distance is a lot more than 400 kilometers. </p>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>I just had a good hard look at the ISS with 10 * 50 binoculars, and I can confirm that no detail could be resolved with this optical aid. However, with the binoculars I could see the ISS for a lot longer time on a lot longer arc compared to naked eye.Ofcourse the ISS here rises only 12 degrees over the horizon, so the distance is a lot more than 400 kilometers. <br />Posted by aphh</DIV><br /><br />That's only for that pass, other passes can be closer to overhead, correct? What is your latitude? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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aphh

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>That's only for that pass, other passes can be closer to overhead, correct? What is your latitude? <br /> Posted by MeteorWayne</DIV></p><p>Latitude is 60 N. <br /><br />I think the best that can be seen here of the ISS is 15 degrees over the horizon at apogee. I'm trying to calculate the actual distance, but have not had the time to figure out way to account for the curvature of the earth, when ISS is passing directly overhead place where the right triangle's cathetis meet, and I see it at 15 degree angle.</p><p>I'm sure it can't be too difficult, but I need to look it up.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Latitude is 60 N. I think the best that can be seen here of the ISS is 15 degrees over the horizon at apogee. I'm trying to calculate the actual distance, but have not had the time to figure out way to account for the curvature of the earth, when ISS is passing directly overhead place where the right triangle's cathetis meet, and I see it at 15 degree angle.I'm sure it can't be too difficult, but I need to look it up.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />Posted by aphh</DIV><br /><br />Yeah, I guess it never can get very high for you. That's a shame, since an overhead pass is a mighty impressive sight! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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doc3170

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<p style="margin:0in0in0pt" class="MsoNormal"><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Well once again with good information from this site I was able to accomplish another first.<span>&nbsp; </span>I used Heavens-Above & Stary Night to locate ISS.<span>&nbsp; </span>Not the most difficult task, but it was important for me.<span>&nbsp; </span>MeteorWayne was right, accurate time was the real key.<span>&nbsp; </span>Aphh was also correct, with 10x50 binoculars it was still an orange glow.<span>&nbsp; </span></font></font></p><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">&nbsp;</font> <p style="margin:0in0in0pt" class="MsoNormal"><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">From 36.202 N 89.012 W ISS rose at 22:21 CST to approximately 25deg & was gone by 22:26; magnitude 0.1<span>&nbsp; </span>Info from Heavens-Above.<span>&nbsp; </span>Even with poor viewing conditions from the moon, it was still easy to spot.<span>&nbsp; </span>Tonight it&rsquo;s supposed to pass right overhead at 90 deg & magnitude -2.5.<span>&nbsp; </span></font></font></p><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">&nbsp;</font> <p style="margin:0in0in0pt" class="MsoNormal"><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Thanks again for all the good info.<span>&nbsp; </span></font></font></p><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">&nbsp;</font> <p style="margin:0in0in0pt" class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">Olie</font></p><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">&nbsp;</font> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Well once again with good information from this site I was able to accomplish another first.&nbsp; I used Heavens-Above & Stary Night to locate ISS.&nbsp; Not the most difficult task, but it was important for me.&nbsp; MeteorWayne was right, accurate time was the real key.&nbsp; Aphh was also correct, with 10x50 binoculars it was still an orange glow.&nbsp; &nbsp; From 36.202 N 89.012 W ISS rose at 22:21 CST to approximately 25deg & was gone by 22:26; magnitude 0.1&nbsp; Info from Heavens-Above.&nbsp; Even with poor viewing conditions from the moon, it was still easy to spot.&nbsp; Tonight it&rsquo;s supposed to pass right overhead at 90 deg & magnitude -2.5.&nbsp; &nbsp; Thanks again for all the good info.&nbsp; &nbsp; Olie&nbsp; &nbsp; <br />Posted by doc3170</DIV><br /><br />I affectionatly call overhead passes "neckbreakers" :)</p><p>Finally, after a month with no passes, and only early morning, the ISS returns to my evening skies tonight.</p><p>Have you seen an Iridium Flare yet?</p><p>Wayne</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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doc3170

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>I affectionatly call overhead passes "neckbreakers" :)Finally, after a month with no passes, and only early morning, the ISS returns to my evening skies tonight.Have you seen an Iridium Flare yet?Wayne <br />Posted by MeteorWayne</DIV><br /><br /><font size="2">No, I haven't seen an Iridium flare yet.&nbsp; Acording to HA, they mostly occur relatively low, usually below 15 deg.&nbsp; On the 24th there's supposed to be one at 57deg -1.0 mag.&nbsp; That one I might be able to see, if I'm still up at 04:30 <img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-laughing.gif" border="0" alt="Laughing" title="Laughing" /></font></p><p><font size="2">Olie</font></p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>No, I haven't seen an Iridium flare yet.&nbsp; Acording to HA, they mostly occur relatively low, usually below 15 deg.&nbsp; On the 24th there's supposed to be one at 57deg -1.0 mag.&nbsp; That one I might be able to see, if I'm still up at 04:30 Olie <br />Posted by doc3170</DIV><br /><br />The location varies depending on the sun position and the location of the planes of 9 satellites each. They are in polar orbits, so can appear quite high in the sky. Timing is super critical for them. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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DrRocket

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Really, only a few satellites are large enough to&nbsp;see the shape, even with the best equipment. You need a relatively high powered telescope that can track the satellite path, which you need to preload.Depending on how you define "a ton of meney" it might not be in your range. You need a scope of probably 6" or more diameter with "Go To" capabilities, a CCD camera to mount on it, and all the requisite software.My guess would be $2000 minimum, $4000 more likely, and that might be pretty conservative. Is that a ton of money to you?Only the ISS is large enough to&nbsp;discern a shape&nbsp;by eye AFAIK, even if you have a scope that can track that fast.Very few can track that fast. Even the largest binoculars don;t provide enough magnification. <br />Posted by MeteorWayne</DIV></p><p>Are there any "amateur" scopes that have the capability to track that fast, and to track on a satellite's orbital path?&nbsp; If there are do you know any specific models? &nbsp;This strikes me as a&nbsp;pretty demanding application, one that would take a fairly sophisticated piece of machinery and some custom programming.&nbsp; But if such a piece of equipment is available commercially, it would be pretty cool.<br /></p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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aphh

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<p>Last night I was in a bar that happened to have a balcony with a great view to South - South-West. Weather co-operating for once, I was able to impress a few people with a ISS sighting.</p><p>So many people don't even know, that the world has a permanent outpost in the final frontier.&nbsp;</p>
 
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