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Satellite Spotting





Dennise
Here's a great website if you are interested in watching satellites passing overhead, including the International Space Station (ISS), at your location.

http://www.heavens-above.com/

You have to register, but it's a no brainer and they ask very little.

You only have to put in your location (country & city pick list or your longitude & latitude) and the site quickly returns a list of satellites, their viewing times at your location together with where to look in the sky.

There's lots of options e.g. to only list the really bright ones and a good help feature.

Worth checking out.
ocalhoun
Can you see satellites with the naked eye?

On many occasions during clear nights in exceptionally dark areas, I've seen very dim star-like lights moving slowly and steadily across the sky...
I'm well aware of what meteors and aircraft look like, and these are certainly neither of those; too dim to be aircraft, too slow to be meteors.
... Are they satellites?
Indi
Oh ya. i don't find them particularly dim, either. They look like pretty much like you describe them: stars that move far too slowly to be a meteor, but far too quickly and too high up to be a plane - they go from horizon to horizon in just a couple minutes. i find them easiest to spot just after sunset.
Dennise
Yes, you can see many of 'em with your naked eye. A bright one (the brightest?) is the international space station - the ISS. The ISS is often a magnitude -3.5 very bright - close to Venus.

From my southern California location, these 'birds' no NOT track from horizon to horizon and that is a clue they are satellites. The appearance (start) elevation angle above the horizon and the disappearance (end) elevation angle above the horizon sometimes can be more than 50 degrees. When you see one tracking across a clear night sky and then it mysteriously 'winks' out well above the horizon - that's very likely a satellite!

This start - end data is clearly shown in the heavens above web-site.

Enjoy.
chatrack
ocalhoun wrote:
Can you see satellites with the naked eye?



I also like to know if we can? Though we get radio signals from them why they are invisible to us?

May be the atmosphere does not allow a clear view Sad
ocalhoun
chatrack wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Can you see satellites with the naked eye?



I also like to know if we can? Though we get radio signals from them why they are invisible to us?

May be the atmosphere does not allow a clear view Sad

So apparently, you can.

Though, if you try to look at them near any town, the light pollution from streetlights will probably prevent you from seeing them.

I can only see them when I'm around 50 miles or more from the nearest major light source.
D'Artagnan
ocalhoun wrote:
chatrack wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Can you see satellites with the naked eye?



I also like to know if we can? Though we get radio signals from them why they are invisible to us?

May be the atmosphere does not allow a clear view Sad

So apparently, you can.

Though, if you try to look at them near any town, the light pollution from streetlights will probably prevent you from seeing them.

I can only see them when I'm around 50 miles or more from the nearest major light source.


YES, you can.

Years ago when i was twelve or so my father and i would go in the yeard and stargaze, he would show me that if i stared for a while in a are with less light (above some woods near my house) you could see sometimes "walking stars"... we didn't really knew what were they, since they were to slow to be shooting stars, and to fast to be stars or planets, and they were too faint and somewhat slower then planes - plus they didn't blink.

some years later i had the curiosity to look up, and guess what , we were looking at artificial satellites...

I live in a are with less light polution then usual, and many times i stargazed was because the energy was off - so the whole neighborhood would be dark.

generally a satelitte will look like a faint star, slowly moving, until it becomes completelly invisible, at least that's what i remember, its been a long time
yagnyavalkya
I used to be an avid star gazer and I have seen many satellites when I used to watch the skies those were the days when there was no internet
I just used to see them and tried to spot then the next same time
chatrack
Once I attended star watching night class with a telescope of moderate size.

Our teacher said, you can see the planets more clearly, if you beam a good torch towards the observing planet, while you watching it through the telescope. I still not understand the theory behind it, nor he tell us. But he said its works good in that way practically. Have you ever tried it while watching stars/planets?
ocalhoun
chatrack wrote:
towards the observing planet

So, you point it at the ground below your feet?

-All joking aside, it might possibly drown out stars, while leaving the brighter planet possible to see...
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