Scott Tilley (VE7TIL): The Amateur Astronomer Who Found a Lost NASA Satellite

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Cap Tux, who shared a link to the following video on YouTube. This short video is brilliant and will be the reference I use when people ask about the intersection of radio and amateur astronomy:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Amateur astronomer Scott Tilley made international headlines when he rediscovered NASA’s IMAGE satellite 13 years after it mysteriously disappeared. In this interview with Freethink, Scott discusses his role in the satellite’s recovery, why he enjoys amateur astronomy, and how citizen scientists like him have contributed to our knowledge of space from the space race to the present day.

And I personally think our Post friend, Troy Riedel–who is an avid amateur astronomer–should start tracking satellites! (We’ll see if he’s reading this post!)

I’m curious: are there any Post readers who are into the satellite tracking side of amateur astronomy?

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5 thoughts on “Scott Tilley (VE7TIL): The Amateur Astronomer Who Found a Lost NASA Satellite

  1. joe

    My involvement in satellite tracking only extends as far as watching them pass overhead after the sun goes down. Even as a child I learned to recognize them for what they were, and I appreciate the opportunities to see them dazzle the heavens with their brilliance. They are much more prevalent then what they used to be. Before it was a rare treat; now it can be a nightly thing if weather permits. I suspect that at one time or another I’ve observed the space station as well. I don’t necessarily go out in search of them like some other folk, but if I’m outside in the evening doing something or other I manage to sneak a peak at the heavens to try and catch one unawares; they must know I’m watching because right before my very eyes they will vanish into thin air… ? I suspected for a long time now that the ones traveling North-South have a different purpose than the ones traveling East-West… Am I right?

  2. Tom Laskowski

    I’ve been an amateur astronomer for over fifty years and am interested in observing all types of objects. I mostly enjoy observing deep-sky objects like galaxies, star clusters, comets, asteroids and planets. One of my favorite pastimes is observing artificial satellites. I use either tripod-mounted 10×50 or 15×70 binoculars, a small rich-field telescope or a larger telescope for the fainter satellites.

    Using websites such as Heavens-Above or free software like Quicksat (a DOS program) I can plan and observe many satellites either naked-eye or using the mentioned equipment. I’ve personally observed and identified nearly 3500 different satellites.

    My interest is simply observing and identifying these (mostly) space junk. There is a small group of dedicated people who track objects, compute orbits and keep track of classified and unidentified satellites. If I had more time I would also love to do this. But the sheer number of orbiting junk I haven’t seen will keep me busy for a long time.

  3. Mark Fahey

    This is the best! I am the weird guy in the neighborhood with seven dishes in my backyard, however, all are used on geostationary communications (radio & television) satellites – this is a fascinating new satellite area for me to explore.


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