(meteorobs) Against Iridiums

Dear Colleagues,

I will make here an exception I have never made before. 

To copy a LONG e-mail in its entire length within my message.

> Among many other pearls of "wisdom", Lew imparted:
> >far better for us if they can be constructed just as easily of components
> >which are less reflective (or show smaller reflective areas to the ground)
> >than those in current designs.
> The reason satellites are made of highly reflective materials is so they
> reflect the sunlight and not gather heat, sort of like a car baking in the
> hot sun. I imagine there *are* some coating materials which would reduce
> the glare and imagine that so far, there has been little reason to use them.
> But remember that the Iridium "flare" is the reflection from the solar
> panels, which cannot be covered so easily as with some kind of paint.
> >I think it may also help in the long run, to keep in sight the concerns of
> >ALL potentially interested parties - non-astronomers and amateurs as well as 
> >professional radio and visual astronomers. This then opens up for us some
> >very powerful arguments: imagine describing graphically, in a broad public
> >forum, the effect on our children of finally (and basically irrevocably)
> >obliterating the night sky which we and our ancestors took for granted.
> That >ends up tying this back to the issue of Light Pollution reduction, too!
> Unfortunately, Lew, we astronomers are already behind the times in terms of
> recognizing the possible pollution that these satellites can and are
> planned to emit in the years to come. The *real* fight against these
> satellites actually became painfully-public for the satellite companies in
> 1996.
> These satellites are called LEO satellites, which means Low Earth Orbit.
> The orbit is low to reduce the radio path loss between earth and the birds.
> I don't know for a fact, but believe that the Iridium series is what is
> called a Little LEO bird because they are physically very small. By keeping
> the birds very small, the cost is also kept relatively low which is how the
> satellite companies can consider placing so many in orbit. The small size
> also allows launching many birds at once from the same rocket; and, of
> course, reduces the amount of real estate that such satellites consume once
> in orbit, allowing still more space "junk" to be launched.
> Almost two years ago, the Little LEO bird companies came up with a new
> radio frequency allocation plan for future Little LEO birds which, to put
> it mildly, tread on a lot of toes. Along with many other present users
> (including the US Government and the military of almost every country using
> V/UHF communications), the Little LEO companies proposed permanently taking
> part of several amateur radio bands for the permanent and exclusive use of
> Little LEO satellites. One of these bands is perhaps the most-used amateur
> radio VHF band, while another is where the overflow from the first band
> must go when there are no longer any open frequencies available in local
> areas (which is already true of most large American cities). The Little LEO
> companies proposed that in an extreme case, they thought that they could
> "allow" the amateurs to "share", on a non-interference basis, part of those
> bands if no place else could be found for the displaced amateurs.
> The reaction from the amateurs, not just in the United States but also
> world-wide, was something totally unexpected and unprecedented. The Federal
> Communications Commission made the mistake of publishing an e-mail address
> in its Request For Comment, which was flooded so quickly that within
> several days, they had to ask that no more comments be sent via e-mail.
> But the issue remains open as the Federal Communications Commission has not
> yet issued a final decision of whether or not they will release a Proposal
> for Rule Making to reallocate those amateur bands to the Little LEO
> companies. If they should do so, the upheaval in the amateur community will
> be totally and completely unprecendented, upsetting all amateur V/UHF
> communications to the point where it will be extremely difficult for
> amateurs to continue to provide even local emergency communications
> services to their communities because there will be no place for them to
> operate. If any of the readers here have doubts that your own local
> amateurs have assisted your local law-enforcement agencies in the past with
> emergency communications, I invite you to go ask around those agencies
> about the value of the amateurs' services, particularly in areas where
> natural disasters are relatively commonplace such as Tornado Alley in
> Oklahoma and Texas, the upper midwestern flood plains, and in Oregon and
> Washington states where the severe El Nino flooding took place just this
> year. The services that the amateurs are now able to provide will
> essentially become impossible if the Little LEO companies take the
> amateurs' frequencies (just as those same companies have surreptiously
> already "stolen" our dark night skies).
> This latest issue about atmospheric light pollution reminds me of the
> intransigent actions and attitudes of the Little LEO companies.
> One of the worst parts of the amateur radio issue is that many amateurs now
> work for those Little LEO companies. There's really no way out of that
> particular situation; either the amateur employees keep their mouths shut
> or their employers may take umbrage at their public attitudes and opinions.
> I venture to guess that very, very few amateur astronomers happen to work
> for Little LEO companies, in part because there probably are far fewer of
> us than there are of radio amateurs. The other reason, of course, is
> because fewer amateur astronomers happen to have hobbyist interests that
> they have parlayed into permanent employment with electronics companies.
> I'm personally glad that we, here on METEOROBS, have come up with this
> particular issue regarding the Little LEOS even if our objections happen to
> have little if nothing to do with my other personal objections to those
> satellites, their owners, and their operators, as a radio amateur. Perhaps
> we can now begin to convert this issue into something more substantial
> through the astronomy publications and so foster a more wide-based and
> public objection to the whole idea of these satellites as they are now
> built and launched.
> Personally, I've carried my personal objection over into both my home and
> work life. I flatly refuse to either buy a wireless telephone or other such
> system just to have the added "convenience" of such when an ordinary wired
> phone has served me so well for my 47 years (actually, that's very easy for
> me to do because, being hard-of-hearing, most cellular and other wireless
> telephones are totally unusable with my hearing aides!). Similarly, I have
> refused to be issued a cellular telephone or pager for my use in my work,
> registering my particular and exact reasons for my objections with those
> who wanted me to accept such equipment. Fortunately, my objections have not
> had a noticeable impact on my employment (yet).
> After all, someone has to begin taking a stand *somewhere*, right? Mine is
> against all this "wireless" equipment that has attempted to make such
> obstrusive and unwelcome in-roads into my personal lifestyle. It doesn't
> bother me one little bit not to have a phone or pager interrupt my work or
> home life for hours at a time.
> >PS: And if you're worried about photometry, imagine the effects of
> non-stop >-7 skyflares on dark-adapted visual meteor observers. :( In fact,
> to the >extent that meteor observing benefits from the current "PHA" and
> meteor storm 
> >hysterias, perhaps public perception could even be turned to consider
> >artifical sky flashes a threat to our survival? :)
> That's an attractive but malicious thought, Lew! While we can think and
> talk of that amongst ourselves, I shudder to think of the child wanting to
> take his telescope into the back yard some night and Mom objects, saying
> that watching the sky is "evil" because she has no idea of the difference
> between a meteor flash and an Iridium flare!
> >Just my $0.02,
> >
> >Lew Gramer
> I give at the office, every day...

This was a gem. 

I ve been a "meteorobs digest" receiver for some time. And this digest was
the best so far, particularly of 2 messages, those of Harrison and Lew on

I wrote my first editorial against Iridiums. For some time I have been
feeling as if alone. its nice to see there´s many others around the
world feeling the same.