The Dagobah System

Video: Satellite Watchers Watch Back

Satellites watch our planet all the time, sometimes for top-secret military reasons, sometimes for reasons as quotidian as making a cellphone call possible.

Satellite watchers like Kevin Fetter and Ted Molczan watch back. Molczan told us about his extreme hobby today on the show.

Now Fetter shares the video above. The first images are of a satellite crossing the moon. The second image captures the incredibly bright reflection, or flare, from a particular type of satellite turned at an exact angle. The third set shows trios of Naval Ocean Surveillance System satellites moving across the night sky. If you like these, check out the rest on Fetter's personal site.



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I give up (and don't have a dictionary handy) but what the heck does "quotidian" mean?

Sent by your mom | 1:56 PM | 2-8-2008

Hey, Mom! Nice to hear from you.

Quotidian means everyday, humdrum, no big deal.

Sent by Laura Conaway, NPR | 2:00 PM | 2-8-2008

No it doesn't, It means without embelishment, decoration, pretense, acoutrement, or fanefare

Sent by Freddie The Know it all | 3:48 PM | 2-8-2008

Um, Freddie? Might want to check the dictionary.

Sent by Sarah G | 5:55 PM | 2-8-2008

how does he find out which satellite is which,especially if they are 'top secret'?

Sent by curious george | 10:43 PM | 2-10-2008

@curious george ... In Kevin's case,he mostly follows nonclassified satellites.

Sent by Laura Conaway, NPR | 6:42 AM | 2-11-2008

What prevents these satellites from crashing into each other?

Sent by Greg | 5:19 PM | 2-11-2008

While my main interest is, the non us military satellites, if I want to observe a classfd one, I use the orbital data at

Mainly the

The classified elements zip file

Last night, I observed a classfd sat in geo orbit, and got data on it. So a updated orbit will appear. It's a bright geo sat, so I like observing it.

Kevin Fetter

Sent by Kevin Fetter | 9:47 PM | 2-11-2008

The vast volume of space helps to reduce the chance of the satellites crashing into each other.

Sent by Bill B | 11:11 AM | 2-12-2008

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