It's a good time of year to see satellites

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Markd77, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. Markd77

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    I've seen the international space station and an iridium satellite this week. It seems somehow strange to see something that we have put in orbit. You can get predictions for the times and directions to look in for your location on:

    If you haven't seen them before, look for the ISS with -2 or more negative magnitude and Iridium with -5 or more.
    soda and debjit625 like this.
  2. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    Thanks for the link - beats using an ephemeris any day.
  3. count_volta

    Active Member

    Feb 4, 2009
    Do they appear as bright dots? I have been noticing many bright large dots in the sky lately. Must be planets (don't blink). I wish I still had my telescope, I could see which planets.
  4. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
    If you use binoculars, you may be able to read the 'Welcome To' signs to figure out which planet they are. ;)

    Meade makes a very interesting device/add-on. Meade Autostar.

    You aim the telescope in a preset direction and type in what you want to see. It automatically scouts out the location of the star/planes/cluster/whatever and lines the telescope up.

    They even have an 'astronomer inside' add-on, that once the item is lined up and in view, will talk of play video regarding the item in question.

    Turns the sky into a planetarium. ;)
  5. Markd77

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    Yes, moving bright dots. ISS takes a few minutes to cross the sky and when it is sunlit is a bit brighter than a planet.
    Iridium ones get gradually brighter from invisible then fade back away while moving through an angle of about 20-30 degrees. The good ones are really bright.
  6. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
  7. debjit625

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Thanks for the link..
  8. Ghar

    Active Member

    Mar 8, 2010
    Thanks, great link. I haven't seen one so convenient though I haven't looked in a few years.

    Senior Member

    Jun 29, 2010
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  10. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
    If you have an Android based phone, get "DroidSat", it is like Google Sky, but for satellites.

    It's amazing how many are floating around up there.

    I think there is something similar for the inferior iphone, but not for sure on that.

    I went from maybe catching 2-3/night when using notebook + Heavens Above to seeing 10+/night with DroidSat. "Falling Stars" are everywhere once you know where to typically look for them, and the biggest thing is "What one looks like". They aren't usually extremely fast, but they aren't slow, either.

    Iridium Flares are another cool thing to watch, it's the sun bouncing of the solar panels of one of the Iridium constellation (first satellite phone network from mid/late 90s'). They only last for a few SECONDS, and you need to be looking at the correct spot, or they are easily missed. There is a program for Droid again that shows these, and I'm pretty sure I heard somebody mention using an iphone to see them, so it's around.

    Finally, Uranus and Jupiter are nearly at conjunction still (have been all year). If you have a telescope, it's a nice thing to watch!
  11. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    Nothing beats actually looking at the sky. I grew up in LA and had read about the Milky Way, but nothing prepared me for the experience of actually seeing it as I drove across the Arizona desert late one night when I was 19. It was enough to make me stop the car and get out for a few minutes. Years later, I was trying to find Jupiter with a small telescope while my son waited. When I finally got Jupiter and its moons, it was the same feeling all over again. I had to look away to convince myself they were not artifacts. It must be in our human nature to like astronomy. Too bad it is so hard to make a living doing it.

  12. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
    Yeah, that's a cool sight. I can't imagine not seeing it ever. I guess I still have problems comprehending people that have never seen snow, either.

    The phone apps just help you know where to look in the sky. They use the accelerometers, GPS, and compass to figure out which way and at what angle you are holding your phone, then identify what is "visible" on the screen. The match between screen and sky is perfect for finding everything quick.
  13. bertus


    Apr 5, 2008
  14. nerdegutta


    Dec 15, 2009

    This was a really cool link. :)
  15. soda

    Active Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Hi Markd77,
    Thanks a lot for the link. I followed the map and was able to view my own house. To be honest the exact spot where i'm sitting right now.
  16. Blackbull

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2008
    Talking of satellites and other celestial phenomena; over the years some of these things have been heralded with a great fanfare, but turn out to be a disappointment. The comets Giotto and Halley in particular, blue Moons meteor showers and satellites also. Some of the most spectacular things I have seen didn’t seem to be reported. The first was when I began walking home from my uncle’s when very young; two great “U” shaped flashes of red and white light came rapidly across the sky and illuminating everywhere. Scared to death I ran back to my uncles, he said it was the Aurora Borealis and it had been known to be seen this far south. The second was a total eclipse of the sun about 1952 it went quite dark, you could only make out the outline of people. Just when the sun emerged the corona was spectacular just like a huge diamond ring in the sky. Our teacher had told us to smoke a piece of glass over a candle if we wanted to view it. The eclipses I have seen since were hardly noticeable, yes you have to be in the right place I know.
    The most spectacular was Bennett’s comet 1970; I had seen nothing about it, the local newspaper wasn’t interested neither was anybody else. The tail was about one eighth of the sky in length quite amazing. It was some years later I found out it was Bennett’s comet discovered by a South African astronomer. Did anyone else see it?
    I was near Birmingham Airport one night when a meteorite came down diagonally across the road it was as big as a football; if we had been one second sooner I’m sure it would have hit the vehicle I was travelling in. Hardly earth shattering, I suppose, but they stick in my mind.
  17. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    I've viewed several comets. You must find a dark place at least 100 miles away from the city, further is better.

    They look much smaller with light pollution. I've seen 5X increase in size simply due to location.
  18. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009

    Yeah, from my backyard, I can see the rings of Saturn with a 32x riflescope.

    Can't see Jupiter's red spot though, but the rings are pretty awesome!
  19. Blackbull

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bill – Looking at Lubbock, Texas, on Google Earth, I was surprised how much space there is there, not as I had visualised it; big state - big country. Here you could not move 100 miles from a city without ending up in the sea, and you are never more than 10 miles from a major road. Guess that is why I’ve missed so much, that was the only comet I have seen, massive, awesome, the impression of something moving at vast speed, yet appearing to hardly move at all.
  20. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
    The Leonid Meteor shower will be visible again on Nov 17th, though it won't be as neat since there will be a full moon out that night.

    More Info Here