Zonk from the better-than-sweeps-week dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "When government officials announced last month that a top-secret spy satellite would come falling out of the sky they said little about the satellite itself. They didn't need to. Spotters equipped with little more than a pair of binoculars, a stop watch and star charts, had already uncovered some of the deepest of the government's expensive secrets and shared them on the Internet. Thousands of people form the spotter community. Many look for historical relics of the early space age, working from publicly available orbital information. Still others are drawn to the secretive world of spy satellites, with about a dozen hobbyists doing most of the observing. When a new spy satellite is launched the hobbyists will collaborate on sightings around the world to determine its orbit, and even guess at its function. They often share their information on their web site, satobs.org."
The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood
of bean counters.
-- Alan Kay