Satellite Tracking


Dean Jacobsen
 

Is anyone using their mount for satellite tracking?  I am starting to go through the Horizons manual.  I am interested in amateur radio satellite tracking in particular.
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
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Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


Dean Jacobsen
 

OK, I think I can figure this out.

AMSAT has a list of the TLEs of the satellites of interest.  Then with a TLE I should be able to have the JPL HORIZONS web interface calculate me an Ephemeris that I should be able to load up into the Astro-Physics Horizons program...

... theoretically.

Is this essentially correct?  I haven't figured the ins and outs of setting up user defined TLEs in JPL HORIZONS yet.

I think that I an going to try and image some comets too.
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


Edward Beshore
 

Hi Dean

I haven't used Horizons for TLE satellite tracking, but I have a fair bit of experience using it for asteroid ephemerides. 

You may have found this already in the on-line docs at https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/?horizons_doc#tle

Looks like you should be able to make this work. Not sure how the AP mounts will do for fast moving objects, however.

Feel free to reach out if you have any issues with the interface. That I can help with.

Ed Beshore

USER-SPECIFIED TWO-LINE ELEMENTS (TLEs)

Geocentric SGP4/SDP4 Two-Line Element (TLE) format data can be specified by users to define an Earth-orbiting artificial satellite. Such data is primarily available from Space-Track.org and CelesTrak.com.

Horizons maintains trajectories for only a small subset of Earth-orbiting satellites, so this user-input option allows specification of other objects not in Horizons. These add-ins can then be used as targets (to observe) and coordinate origins (observing sites from which to observe).

The standard TLE format can be cut-and-pasted into Horizons here. For example:

SC-1
1 87820U 11053A   11273.79990913  .00099611  00000-0  64461-3 0  9991
2 87820 042.7843 189.7738 0014383 039.8647 002.5266 15.74868665   196
1 87820U 11053A   11273.86983630 -.00085102 +00000-0 -55758-3 0  9998
2 87820 042.7804 189.3478 0014258 040.7498 038.5752 15.74826749000204

 *  PRESS <return> ON A BLANK LINE WHEN DONE.

 *  Type '-' alone on a line to abandon TLE input (discard)

 *  The first line can be the object's name ("SC-1"), as can every 3rd line.
     Names are a maximum of 24 characters in length.

 *  Name is optional, but if no name is provided, you will be prompted for
     an optional name after TLE data input is complete.

 *  Multiple TLE sets can be input, up to some system limit which may change
     but is nominally 600 sets (1200 data lines ... name lines are not counted)

 *  Input TLEs can be extrapolated over a limited time-span before and after
     the first and last TLE epochs. This limit may change, but is nominally
     +/- 14 days. Extrapolation errors outside the TLE epoch bounds grow at
     perhaps 1-3 km per day, but this is highly variable and could be much
     worse if there is thruster activity. If there are large gaps in the data,
     ephemeris results could be heavily degraded (i.e., worthless ... passing
     through the Earth, etc.).

 *  The data does not have to be in chronological order, though that
     would be a normal thing to do.

 *  Once a TLE object has been defined, you can go off and do other things
     in Horizons (when using it interactively via telnet), then come back
     later and select the previously input dataset as a target by typing
     "TLE" at the main Horizons prompt.

 *  An input TLE object can be also used as a coordinate origin (an observing
     point) at any time, as explained below.


Dean Jacobsen
 

Hi Ed,

Thanks, I haven't run across that doc yet and it is very helpful.

Fortunately, AMSAT issues a bulletin once a week with TLEs of the current amateur satellites:  https://www.amsat.org/tle/current/nasa.all

So, now that I have directions on how to input user-specified TLEs, then I should be able to have JPL HORIZONS web interface calculate an Ephemeris which in turn can be loaded into the Astro-Physics Horizons program... hopefully.

My Mach2 may or may not be able to keep up with one of the amateur satellites but I don't see any harm in trying.  I can also try some of the slower spacecraft targets that JPL Horizons has in its database.

Thanks again for pointing me to that document and I will be in touch if I need further expert help.
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


Roland Christen
 


My Mach2 may or may not be able to keep up with one of the amateur satellites
We are limited by Federal law to a maximum controlled tracking rate of 999x sidereal in order to prevent our mount from being used for missile tracking by foreign bad guys.

There are programs that use the max slew rate of 1800x for pulse movement of the mount which doesn't track in a smooth manner but which keeps the object in the field in a back-forth manner. This is not controlled tracking but it does work to keep a fast moving satellite in the field, just not perfectly centered.

I know that there are certain import mounts that do controlled tracking at higher rates, but they are basically breaking the law here in the US.

Rolando


-----Original Message-----
From: Dean Jacobsen <deanjacobsen@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Wed, Oct 7, 2020 10:34 am
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Satellite Tracking

Hi Ed,

Thanks, I haven't run across that doc yet and it is very helpful.

Fortunately, AMSAT issues a bulletin once a week with TLEs of the current amateur satellites:  https://www.amsat.org/tle/current/nasa.all

So, now that I have directions on how to input user-specified TLEs, then I should be able to have JPL HORIZONS web interface calculate an Ephemeris which in turn can be loaded into the Astro-Physics Horizons program... hopefully.

My Mach2 may or may not be able to keep up with one of the amateur satellites but I don't see any harm in trying.  I can also try some of the slower spacecraft targets that JPL Horizons has in its database.

Thanks again for pointing me to that document and I will be in touch if I need further expert help.
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


Dean Jacobsen
 

Understood Roland, I remember that you have said that before.  There are a lot of satellites up there and perhaps I will find something within the max tracking rate of the Mach2.

Is the Mach2 fast enough to track the ISS?  I was thinking of starting with that and just putting one of my cameras in video mode and taking a video of a pass.
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


Dean Jacobsen
 

On Wed, Oct 7, 2020 at 09:13 AM, uncarollo2 <chris1011@...> wrote:
There are programs that use the max slew rate of 1800x for pulse movement of the mount which doesn't track in a smooth manner but which keeps the object in the field in a back-forth manner. This is not controlled tracking but it does work to keep a fast moving satellite in the field, just not perfectly centered.
That would work for communicating with an amateur radio satellite if the satellite isn't faster than the 1800x rate.  I just need something that will keep the antenna array moving with the satellite.
 
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


Allen Ruckle
 

Robert,

       I hope  you and your family are doing well.  We are well and looking forward to having 4 grandchildren all next week.

This post on the Astro-Physics forum about satellite tracking 
may be of interest to you.  Dean Jacobsen has a A-P Mach 2 mount for about 4 months now.  It sounds like he his a Ham
Radio user.   He is a member of the SDAA club and has his telescope in the observatory 3 buildings to the West of ours.

       If I remember, I will ask him his call letters if you are interested in talking to him.  As it stands now, it looks like there will be
no bar B que this month.   
 



Allen Ruckle





On Oct 6, 2020, at 9:29 PM, Dean Jacobsen <deanjacobsen@...> wrote:

OK, I think I can figure this out.

AMSAT has a list of the TLEs of the satellites of interest.  Then with a TLE I should be able to have the JPL HORIZONS web interface calculate me an Ephemeris that I should be able to load up into the Astro-Physics Horizons program...

... theoretically.

Is this essentially correct?  I haven't figured the ins and outs of setting up user defined TLEs in JPL HORIZONS yet.

I think that I an going to try and image some comets too.
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ
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Dean Jacobsen
 

Hey Al, I hope to be out at the observatory at least two times next week.
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


Allen Ruckle
 

Dean,
        Do you know witch two days yet,  I realize it depends on the Weather.

Allen

On Oct 7, 2020, at 10:27 AM, Dean Jacobsen <deanjacobsen@...> wrote:

Hey Al, I hope to be out at the observatory at least two times next week.
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


Dean Jacobsen
 

Hi Ed, the directions in the AP Horizons manual are excellent so I think I am set to go.  I am going to try and get a video of an ISS pass just to see if I can put all of the parts together correctly.  The ISS is listed in the JPL Horizons target list and I will find a time wen I get a favorable pass.
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


CurtisC
 

It was probably six or seven years ago, but I once tried using Horizons to track a comet with my Mach1GTO.  Yes, I could track the comet.  But the resulting images weren't tracked precisely enough for my taste.  There wasn't anything that I would want to send to S&T or Astronomy.  I wish you better success than what I experienced, Dean.


Dean Jacobsen
 

Thanks Curtis.  We will see how it goes.  I have this nifty high tech mount.  Why not use it as a satellite tracking platform too?  
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


davidcfinch9
 

The website heavens-above.com. will tell you when the ISS (as well as many other satellites) will be observable from your location and will even plot its path across the sky for your location. Try it out, it is a nifty site.

David C. Finch

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Dean Jacobsen
Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 4:27 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Satellite Tracking

 

Thanks Curtis.  We will see how it goes.  I have this nifty high tech mount.  Why not use it as a satellite tracking platform too?  
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


Dean Jacobsen
 

Thanks David, that is a nice resource.  I like the "pass details" map that it gives you.

Do you know if the site also gives you TLE/Keplerian element data for the satellites that they track?  I haven't found it yet in their satellite database.

I have also found this site: https://www.n2yo.com/?s=25544
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


davidcfinch9
 

I don’t believe the site gives you the TLE/Keplerian data. I use SkyX. In it you can download satellite elements and then use it to track the satellite across the sky.

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Dean Jacobsen
Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 5:38 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Satellite Tracking

 

Thanks David, that is a nice resource.  I like the "pass details" map that it gives you.

Do you know if the site also gives you TLE/Keplerian element data for the satellites that they track?  I haven't found it yet in their satellite database.

I have also found this site: https://www.n2yo.com/?s=25544
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


Dean Jacobsen
 

On Wed, Oct 7, 2020 at 02:45 PM, davidcfinch9 wrote:
I use SkyX. In it you can download satellite elements and then use it to track the satellite across the sky.
I will take a look at my copy of TheSkyX.  Maybe I can use it to at least track track the satellites that it has its database.
 
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


davidcfinch9
 

SkyX will download any satellite you want (the easiest way is the download of the 100 brightest satellites). You can then track the satellite with your mount. SkyX has a direct AP connection or you can go through ASCOM.

David C. Finch

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Dean Jacobsen
Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 5:55 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Satellite Tracking

 

On Wed, Oct 7, 2020 at 02:45 PM, davidcfinch9 wrote:

I use SkyX. In it you can download satellite elements and then use it to track the satellite across the sky.

I will take a look at my copy of TheSkyX.  Maybe I can use it to at least track track the satellites that it has its database.
 
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


Dean Jacobsen
 

Thanks David.  I run TheSkyX through ASCOM so I will check it out.  I am primarily interested in amateur radio comms satellites and using the Mach2 as a tracking platform, so I will investigate what I can do with TheSkyX.
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ


davidcfinch9
 

Just to be clear, I am running SkyX Pro, I don’t know what the other versions can do. In the Pro version, you can go to Input: Satellite: Import from Web: Amateur Radio Satellites.

I have a Mach2 on order. The SkyX can connect directly to a Mach 1, so I don’t know if it can connect directly to a Mach2, or if it can, how robust the connection is.

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Dean Jacobsen
Sent: Thursday, October 8, 2020 1:38 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Satellite Tracking

 

Thanks David.  I run TheSkyX through ASCOM so I will check it out.  I am primarily interested in amateur radio comms satellites and using the Mach2 as a tracking platform, so I will investigate what I can do with TheSkyX.
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin Image Gallery - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 
Amateur Radio Call Sign - W6DBJ