Satellite watching

Moonwatch was crucial until professional stations were deployed in 1958. Satellite watching or satellite spotting is a hobby which consists of the observation and tracking of Earth artificial satellites.

The program was discontinued in 1975. There are many planetarium and satellite tracking computer programs to aid satellite spotting. In February 2008 the front page of The New York Times hosted an article about an amateur satellite watcher Ted Molczan in relation to the story about falling American spy satellite USA 193. Recently this has been identified as a security threat, and a pilot program was launched in 2008 to replace the OIG website with a US Air Force site with more restrictive access. There are many satellite watcher clubs, which collect observations and issue awards for observations according to various rules. .

American officials were reluctant to provide information about the satellite, and instead, Ted Molczan, as the article says, uncovers some of the deepest of the government’s expensive secrets and shares them on the Internet. NASA s Orbital Information Group have been providing free information about over 10,000 objects in Earth orbit. People with this hobby are variously called satellite watchers, trackers, spotters, observers, etc. Amateur satellite spotting traces back to the days of early artificial satellites when the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory launched the Operation Moonwatch (1956), a program to enlist amateur astronomers in the effort to track Soviet sputniks, in an analogy with the World War II Ground Observer Corps program to spot enemy bombers.