seawasp (seawasp) wrote,

Here's a difficult astronomical question for me...

Say that one has various objects in Earth orbit. ("One has various objects in Earth orbit!", yes, yes, thank you verymuch)

Let's say that I can determine dimensions and albedos for these objects, which may range from several meters across down to centimeters.

How can I tell how bright these targets will look to an observer at a given distance? I.e., whether they look like really bright pinpoints, like regular first-magnitude stars, or are invisible to the naked eye? I've been doing some wild guesses and BOTE calculations but I have no idea if I'm even getting close. Let's say the distances of interest are 10km, 100km, 1,000km, and 10k km. And that we're In SPAAACE and thus not having to worry about air, fog, etc. getting in the way.

I did some searches and found all sorts of people who want to use this information, and a lot that assume I know it, but nothing that said "Take your satellite dimensions, overall albedo, and distance, and plug in here to get the apparent visual magnitude."
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