Lectures since 2013:

Marco LangbroekMarco Langbroek- (10/03/14) – Spies in the Skies
Over 10 000 artificial satellites circle above our heads. About 1000 of these concern “classified” military satellites, many of these launched by the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office). The NRO is the USA’s “unknown” military Space Agency operating in the shades of NASA. It is the NRO where much of the truely innovative work in Space technology originates. For example; the Hubble Space Telescope is a derivate of the NRO’s KH-11/CRYSTAL optical reconnaissance satellites, of which the NRO has flown 17 since 1976 and currently orbits five. The NRO launches and operate satellites that listen to radio signals (SIGINT), take high resolution optical or Radar images of the earth (IMINT), look for rocket launches in infrared, or provide crucial military communication capabilities. Although their orbits are “classified”, information about the orbits of almost all of these ‘secret’ satellites is in the public domain thanks to a small dedicated international group of amateur satellite trackers who observe these objects from their backyards, often with very simple equipment, demonstrating the realistic limits to secrecy. Today’s lecturer is a member of this group and will explain how they track these objects, and why.

In 1632 the Leiden professor Jacob van Gool bought a quadrant of the famous Snellius. A year
later this quadrant was placed on the roof of the University building, which marked the start of
the Leiden Observatory. In the following centuries the observatory was expanded in area and
instruments. However in 1860, due to its dated state, the Dutch Government granted money for a totally new building – an achievement from the then director Frederik Kaiser. My talk will focus
on the heritage of the Leiden Observatory: the directors, the building and its instruments.