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Re: [FT] orbital sighting

From: Indy <kochte@s...>
Date: Mon, 05 Jan 2004 13:29:13 -0500
Subject: Re: [FT] orbital sighting

"" wrote:
> Assuming a colony planet with no air pollution and not much light
> pollution, and a battle taking place in close orbit (eg under 1000km),
> an observer with Mk1 Eyeball, could he see:
> -- a non-stealth ship around CA/BC size -- roughly 100-200m long,
> wide?

Yes, especially (or primarily?) just after sunset/before sunrise, much
like you can see satellites (e.g., the ISS, HST, others) orbiting today.
Most satellites don't reach a tenth of the size of a CA or BC you have
fleshed out above. The ships would be no problem in picking out (and
even shape-discernable in telescopes, possibly binoculars; people can
make out the shape of the ISS with considerable detail nowadays with a
basic telescope of 6" or so in diameter; friend of mine had video'd the
ISS through his 12.5" Dobsonian last year; a shakey image, as he was
hand-holding the digital camera and hand-tracking with the telescope,
but you can tell what the object is).

I don't know that the observer would be able to see the ship during the
daytime. Scattered light in the atmosphere would probably help mask its
presence. But at night, reflected light from the local star will give it

> --flashes from nukes?

Why not? Biiig flash. Definitely at night, anytime. Daytime it would
probably go unnoticed (ASSUMING that the general light levels are
equivalent to that we experience here on Earth). People have seen
bright things in the daytime sky before (flashes of sun glinting at
just the right angle off of a plane, really kick-ass meteoroid blazing
through the upper atmosphere), but in general most people are not
looking up, and so would likely miss any daytime blasts (unless
close enough to cause shadows). At night, most definitely I would
say (hell, fireballs - really kick-ass exploding meteors - can cast
shadows at night; I've seen a few during my years of observing - and
missed a few when I happened to be looking down and the ground lit
up around me)

> --clouds eg debris of a killed ship?

Pre-dawn and post-dusk you would see the reflected light from the local
sun off of the debris cloud. It would be significantly fainter than a
whole ship, but if one is very acquainted with the local night sky, it
would be noticeable. Larger pieces may be as bright as your average
satellite nowadays; those would be noticeable readily enough.


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