Good Sats Hunting: Leave It To The Amateurs
The word amateur seems ludicrous when talking about astrophotographer Thierry Legault. Any more than William Herschel — the 18th century master astronomer — was an amateur since he wasn’t a university prof.
Solar transit of ISS and Atlantis – Last mission of Atlantis, May 16, 2010
But French engineer Legault creates his stunning and intriguing shots of the skies for love not money. And in the process teaches us much about what’s happening out there and up there. First, there are his images of planetary and deep sky phenomena; asteroid 19458 even bears his name. Then, there’s his visual tracking of the ISS and satellites. And he’s not just capturing data and pictures of the friendly climate sats buzzing about. He’s also tracking the secret military craft, some of them barely acknowledged (see Air Force’s semi-secret mini space shuttle, the X-37B).
It’s time to retire words like amateur when referring to masters like Legault. Or, at least, change our understanding of the word.