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It's a broad question, but I'll take a stab trying to provide the essentials for a good start. Also see this post which contains important additional information: Best telescope for the viewing of Nebulae, Stars and Planets There are many, many factors involved in choosing a telescope. You seem settled on a dobsonian. That's not the only possible choice, ...


A lot of satellites are visible under the right conditions. Usually up to 2 hours after sunset and 2 hours before sunrise. This allows the sun to strike the satellite when you are on the dark side. Depending on the orbit, it will take between 1 and 5 minutes to traverse most of the sky. Usually, they will enter the shadow and you lose sight of them.


Note that its more or less symmetric, so hardware of a caliber sufficient to observe human activity on the ground from space, would, if mounted on the ground, be more or less of the same size and technology required to observe human sized activity in space. So you can cross check both theoretical and experimental results vs what parameters are known about ...

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