The SkySensor 2000 can track an artifical satellite from horizon to horizon. The process of making this happens requires obtaining the satellite orbital data, entering the data into SkySensor 2000, setting up the mount for proper tracking and doing the tracking.
Obtaining Satellite Orbital Data.
Satellite orbital data is now commonly packaged into what are called "Two Line Elements" or TLEs. A TLE is a fixed format sequence of values contained in two lines each of which have a data verification check sum. The specific format of the standard TLE can be obtained at http://www.amsat.org/amsat/keps/formats.html.
The current TLEs for many satellites can be obtained at a dead link at http://oigsysop.atsc.allied.com.
Mir's TLE can be obtained at http://www2.plasma.mpe-garching.mpg.de/sat/vsohp/mir.elset
Other interesting satellite observation information can be found at http://www2.plasma.mpe-garching.mpg.de/sat/vsohp/satintro.html and a dead link at http://ssl.berkeley.edu/isi_www/satpasses.html#references.
Entering the Orbital Data
There are nine specific data elements needed by SkySensor 2000. Each of the data elements is contained in the standard TLEs. Print out a copy of the TLE format information from the link above to help you locate and extract the elements as SkySensor requests them. After you have finished the data enter, double check it digit-by-digit. Accuracy is important. If you now ESC from the edit mode, you will be able to view the current position, altitude, speed and other data about the satellite.
Setting up the mount
The mount's polar axis should be in a line roughly parallel to the expected track of the satellite. Doing this will avoid SkySensor having to stop the tracking to reverse the OTA. The best way to determine the expected track is to set the SkySensor clock or date ahead to a time when the satellite will be passing overhead. Do this and watch which way SkySensor tracks.
Give yourself plenty of time to get set up and make sure you have set the SkySensor time and location information as precisely as possible. Accurate time and location information is vital to good satellite tracking. Even a few seconds of incorrect time can put the satellite out of the finder scope.
After setting the mount up parallel to the expected track, do a three star align. Don't worry about your mount's gross misalignment with the celestrial pole. SkySensor can handle it. Now that you aligned, insure that you have the Satellite Alarm set to "On," and wait for the alarm. While you are waiting you might as well use your telescope to do some observing. Select some object, GOTO it and watch it for awhile. Notice how accurately SkySensor located that object and how precisely it tracks that object even with your mount so grossly misaligned.
When the Satellite Alarm goes off, select the satellite from the Artifical Satellite menu. Press the GOTO key. Wait for the telescope to slew around and start tracking. Make sure you have your motor speed is set to "fast." Looking through the finder, look for a star that is not moving in the finder. Center it and then look into the EP and enjoy the ride. Watching the satellite stay more or less still in the EP while the stars zoom by is a real experience.
SkySensor 2000 Mir Space Station Tracking Reports
Posted to sci.astro.amateur
Sky Sensor 2000 Tracks Mir
SkySensor 200 Tracks Mir Again
SkySensor 2000 & Mir, 10/23