Update From Texas - Got Two Satellites Tonight

My observational techniques are getting better, for the first time I got USA 281 and USA 267 (Future Imagery Architecture Radar 4) tonight and will submit observations tomorrow.

I need to get around to installing Docker and Satvid to hopefully speed up my observation reduction.

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Submitted four (!) observations - USA 281 (object 43145) on 25 Dec 010140 UTC and USA 267 (object 41334) on 25 Dec 010734 UTC. This was the first time that the time was set directly from my computer to the camera. The exposures were set at 10 seconds so the second observation is shutter opening + ten seconds.

Congratulations @CharlesHouston! Well done! Was this with your Nikon D200? I’m interested to know what workflow worked for you.

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Brian - thanks! Let’s see if the observations fit and then I will be more confident talking about how I got them.

I am away from home for a few days and made the decision to leave my laptop at home so will get back to you Monday but this was with the Nikon D200


Brian -

I am back at home and with my Macs. The workflow is somewhat documented at:

though I do need to update that page. Generally: I use Gpredict to plan my evening, it gives me what will be available and approximately when. I connect the camera to the Mac and set the camera time.

Then I go out and take photos, using Orbitrack to point the camera. Both of those are not perfect but I have some work to do to get better, I am trying to install Docker and satvid.

I bring all photos back to the house and put them on the bigger monitor, and use Photos to look for streaks - I edit the photo but only to drag the brightness up and down. I have been getting about 12 images and in the last session got two satellites.

When I get a streak I go to Astrometry.net to get a FITS file and put that into SAO Image DS 9. That gives me the RA and Dec (I also write down the RA and Dec from Worldwide Telescope but those are somewhat different from SAO Image, I report angles from SAO Image).

So that is several steps and is labor intensive.

EXIFTool gives me time for the exposure - start and duration.

Then I got to TruSat to convert data to an IOD observation line (I wrote a small C application to do that but TruSat is easier to use!).

Does this help?


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Well now that I went back and looked at the results of my 25 Dec tracking - I am going back to setting the time in the camera by hand! Setting it from the computer is NOT as good as setting it by hand. I need to look at my techniques some more.


If you haven’t tried this already, try triggering the camera from a time synchronized computer. See my earlier post about DSLR observations.


Thanks, yes there are several improvements that I am slowly working on and that is one of them. Darn this holiday season gets in the way of stuff that I really want to do!


Thank you for sharing this breakdown of your process, @CharlesHouston

Much appreciated!

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