Published August 8, 2023 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Tracking and Identifying Anonymous ISON Satellites



Amateur satellite observers, including myself, rely on symbiotic relationships that involve observations based on predictions, followed by predictions based on observations, as derived by analysis with standard models. The key data derived in this process is the 3-line element set or TLE. The TLE describes, at a certain point in time (epoch) the orbit of a satellite such that its state (position and velocity vector) at any other time can be estimated within limits of accuracy.  A satellite position can then be predicted at a specific time of interest, if the observer’s location is known.

The Russian based ISON (International Scientific Optical Network) provides a weekly update of a catalog listing manmade objects in Earth orbit. The “ISON catalog” is maintained at As stated on that website, “Orbits with a period of over 200 minutes are mainly investigated, which basically include geostationary space objects and objects with large eccentricity orbits.”

Using this resource, the services of remote telescopes, and the assistance of other amateurs involved in data analysis, and predictive methods, I have been working to identify the “anonymous” objects of this catalog. In doing so, 107 orbiting objects have been identified beyond those previously matched with other sources, and there are five interesting objects that though regularly trackable remain unidentified.


Tracking and Identifying Anonymous ISON Satellites.pdf

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