Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10 in 1 night

Had a bit of a marathon sky watching session this evening. It has been cloudy cloudy for the past few days and when I saw the moon 'up' at noon today, I knew it was gonna be an awesome night for viewing since the moon would not be up. I was out from 8:30pm to 10:00pm and saw 10 little moving objects. I was armed with some new 'equipment' this evening. I had my handy dandy 'red' flashlight from the other night. I went out yesterday and bought a little watch which has a backlight (so no more running over to the window to look at the clock on the stove). I also started printing out the lists with a black background and bold white letters which beats trying to hand write the darn things. I pretty much manually grab it from one of my websites and then cram it into Excel where I can make it pretty. One cool thing that I saw TWICE this evening were tumbling Iridium satellites. I didn't even have these on my list. This happens every now and then. I'll see something that is quite clearly a satellite of some sort, so I'll write down the time, direction and elevation and then try to figure out what it is later. Sometimes I figure it out, sometimes I don't, but I lucked out this evening and 3 of the 4 unknowns I was able to figure out what they were.

Here's the timeline of this evening:

8:36pm - Meteor 1-31 Rocket (1981-065B) - 3.3 magnitude
I've spotted this one before. It's a Vostok 8A92M (Vostok-2) rocket body.

8:43pm - Nimiq 4 Tnk (2008-044B) 3.5 mag.
First first sighting of the evening. This one appeared to be strobing - It is a Russian Breeze (Briz-M) upper stage rocket tank of the Proton-M rocket. This rocket launched a telecom sat for Bell TV and EchoStar (Dish Network) - Nimiq is Inuit for 'force that binds things together'

8:49pm - SJ 12 LM Rocket (2010-027B) - 3.8 mag.
This one was a CZ-2D (Long March 2D) rocket body; launched Shijian 12 Chinese research satellite. Shijian means "practice" in Chinese. It should be noted that this rocket launched on June 15th 2010, which makes this the newest object I have seen having only been in orbit for 106 days (3 months, 14 days). This is my first sighting of this object.

8:51pm - Cosmos 1937 Rocket (1988-029B) - 3.4 mag.
This is my first sighting of this Kosmos-3M rocket body used to launch the Cosmos 1937 Russian military and gov't communications satellite

8:55pm - Okean 3 (1991-039A) - 4.2 mag.
This is my first sighting of Okean 3 which is an earth science sat from Russia which monitored sea-ice conditions in the Arctic Seas. According to one site, it stopped working in January of 1994 after only 3 years of service.

9:00pm - Iridium 911tum (originally named Iridium 11 but renamed after it began tumbling)(1997-030G) - 6.0 mag.
This is a tumbling iridium satellite (i.e. it's out of control and is space junk) - strobing at 6 sec intervals. This is my first sighting of this satellite.

9:04pm - Cosmos 1455 Rocket (1983-037B) - 3.1 mag.
This is my first sighting of this Tsyklon-3 rocket body used to launch the Cosmos 1455 Russian electronic intelligence satellite.

9:15pm - shooting star

9:24pm - Iridium 16 tum (1997-030F) - 7.5 mag
This is another tumbling iridium satellite - irregular pattern - 15 seconds. It's also another first sighting.

9:36pm - Cosmos 2428 (2007-029A) - 2.6 mag.
First sighting! Cosmos 2428 is a Russian ELINT satellite

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