Secrets and Openess [7:26 am]
[Ted] Molczan, a private energy conservation consultant, is the best known of the satellite spotters who, needing little more than a pair of binoculars, a stop watch and star charts, uncover some of the deepest of the government’s expensive secrets and share them on the Internet.
[...] John E. Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a private group in Alexandria, Va., that tracks military and space activities, said the hobbyists exemplified fundamental principles of openness and of the power of technology to change the game.
“It has been an important demystification of these things,” Mr. Pike said, “because I think there is a tendency on the part of these agencies just to try to pretend that they don’t exist, and that nothing can be known about them.”
But the spotters are also pursuing a thoroughly unusual pastime, one that calls for long hours outside, freezing in the winter and sweating in the summer, straining to see a moving light in the sky and hoping that a slip of the finger on the stopwatch does not delete an entire night’s work. And for the adept, there is math. Lots of math.