Any satellites not in the Clarke belt?

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SatelliteGuys Pro
Original poster
Jul 13, 2006
Travelers Rest, SC
I know this a pretty off the wall question, but I was just wondering if there are any satellites NOT in the Clarke belt? I remember a couple years ago when HDTV was gaining steam and I was a regular on the AVS forum boards, a discussion had arose about the best HDTV programming provider. C-band came up and being the best quality possible, and a gentleman said that inorder to have a good C-band setup one would need two satellite dishes, one pointing north and one pointing south, both with horizion to horizon mounts. Was he TOTALLY wrong? I'm pretty sure he didn't have C-band because he said it would cost him about $20,000 for startup costs to have an awesome HDTV programming experience. I didn't know if there was another sat or two that could be received that is not in the belt. Oh yeah, why the Clarke belt? Just to make it easier? Thanks!
The Clarke belt is the most efficient place for communications satellites to be from there then can rotate exactly round the earths axis......

From the northern hemisphere you have to aim South and from the Southern hemisphere you would point north. If you were exactly on the equator you would be aiming straight up!

Here is the original paper by Arthur C. Clarke "Extra Terrestrial Relays"

Have this printed out and on my wall!
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The Sirius Birds may not be.. They are constantly doing figure 8's over north america
Fun facts

TiminMb said:
Spy satellites orbit north south. On a starry night, look up. There are many satellites to be seen that are not in geosynchronous orbit.

My work involves LEO (low earth orbiting) satellites. Not exactly spy satellites (well at least that's what I have to say or I'd have to kill you :) just kidding) but we collect a good 100 terabytes of satellite imagery of the earth's surface every year ranging from about 1km resolution all the way down to 0.5m resolution on some satellites. Their orbital position varies but they are all in around the 800km range (compared to the 26000km range of geosynchronous satellites).

Predicting the position of these satellites is vastly more complicated than for a geosynchronous satellite, and you need to propagate the antenna's angular position for azimuth and elevation as the satellite moves from horizon to horizon, typically about a 15 minute journey.

Typical data stream rates for these satellits is between 75 and 150 Mbit/s, some as high as 350 Mbit/s. Most transmit a tracking beacon in the S-Band and their data stream in X-Band. NOAA satellites downlink in the L-Band.

Of course this has nothing to do with FTA but I wanted to leave my 2c :)
I recall waaaay back when............probably early 80s, don't know for sure, a company set up a satellite dish on the roof of the school I attended out in the bush and it was, as I recall, pointing north. I think it was for educational programming which they recorded onto 3/4" tape, Sony U-matic, the pre-decessor to Beta. I believe it was only active certain times of the day. Not sure if that was due to the fact that the satellite was not in a geo-syncronus orbit or maybe because they shared satellite time with someone else or for any other reason I'm not sure of.
I may be wrong, I was just a kid but that's how I recall it. Oh, I think the channel is what is now known as TV Ontario..........back then it was OECA or Ontario Educational Communications Authority (again, foggy childhood memories). All I know is that even back then I thought it was pretty damn cool!
Geosynchronus implies stationary and the converse is also true. I can't see any way that a sat. can remain stationary if it's not in the Clarke belt...
iafirebuff said:
So you can see a satellite up in space on a clear night? What do they look like?
It's best to view far away from city lights. Unfortunately for me, Miami casts enough interference that I can barely find the North star on a clear night. :(
It's more than likely you have seen Low Earth Orbit satellites many times. They are easily mistaken for an aircraft with its landing lights on. Their apparent rate of travel can be similar, but they will lack the flashing red and green wing markers. Most present a steady more-or-less white glow - like a star. Some vary in brilliance as they tumble along.

There is an interesting "constellation" of three military sats (US Navy so I'm told) which fly along in an equilateral triangle formation, about 5 degs. of arc on each side.

The hours right after sundown and just before sunrise are prime times for satellite spotting - when the Sun's rays are shining on the edge of space, but not yet illuminating the atmosphere over your location.

LEOs can also be seen in the daytime. A prime example is the Iridium fleet. Their large highly reflective solar panels blaze at up to magnitude -7 (over 100 times brighter than the brightest star!)

(Edit: The ISS and the Space Shuttle are essentially satellites and are also naked eye observable.)
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I've seen these LEO's zooming across the sky before. It's a pretty cool sight to see!

But yeah, you relly need to be away from the "light pollution" of the city.
There is no question about it - a dark sky is highly desirable. The vision of a satellite threading its way along a star strewn background is most dramatic.

...however, if you live in a highly light polluted environment (as most people do) don't let that dissuade you from giving it a try. Some of these suckers are bright, so bright that even if you can't see any stars from your location, you will still be able to see satellites.

On a clear night, during the new moon, at a dark sky site you can almost not help but notice several without really looking for them ... but under less ideal conditions the prediction tables generated at will help a lot.
The Heavens Above website at is pretty good for providing information on where and when to look for visible satellites, be it the space station, shuttle or whatever is available. Just enter your location and you will get a list of times, brightness levels and where to look in the sky. The new solar panels just installed on the space station should make it extremely bright.

The Russians used highly elliptical (non Clarke belt) orbits inclined 63.4 degrees to the equator. The highly elliptical orbit gives the satellite a long "hang time" over their northern latitudes, providing coverage to areas where geo-synchronous satellites can not. The satellite moves fairly slowly in angle during it's apogee, but it does move across the sky relative to the earth. They typically deployed them in groups of 3 to provide 24-hour coverage. The 63.4 degree inclination is a "magic" angle that minimizes the precession of the orbit around the earth. The high altitude, long dwell time tends to remain fixed instead of walking around the orbital path. I don't know if they were used for consumer TV/Video or not.
Have seen the ISS a couple of times, both just before dawn when the sun was already illuminating it. The local morning news mentioned it would be passing overhead, and there it was. It's big! Almost looked as bright as a plane. Have also seen the shuttle on many occasions over the years on its way in for a landing...
I've seen the Space Shuttle several times. I happen to be in the landing path for Cape Canaveral/Kennedy. It soars over Atlanta, zooms across me, I'm at Lizella Georgia, seems to get to Kennedy in less than 5 minutes, which is about 400-500 miles from me. Now, thats hauling *ss. When it comes by, better not blink, you might miss it? I've also seen the ISS a few times. When I was a kid, during a severe thunderstorm with blackout, I saw "Uncle Martin" land in my back yard. I know it was him, because my older sister would never lie to me?

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