When I got home, the wife informed me a package had come in for me. It was my Giant 600 Cartoon Collection that I got for a steal on eBay. 12 dual-layer DVDs and over 60 hours of cartoons baby!
It was about 8:30pm and I thought I heard the kiddo go to bed, so I went to a couple of my satellite tracking sites and quickly came up with a list of four sats that I was going to try to see.
First up up at 8:45pm was a Zenit-2 rocket body. This rocket was launched on July 10, 1998 from the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome. It deployed the RESURS-01 4 which was a satellite for the Russian military which observed and monitored natural Earth resources. Then either the same rocket, or the Resurs 01-4 satellite itself in turn launched the TMSAT-1 (that's Thai-Microsatellite-OSCAR). Both satellites have been decommissioned, but the rocket body still hovers around out there, 12 years later. This is why we have all that space junk out there. By the way, just so you know, Resurs is french for 'resource'. :) This was a 2.9 magnitude object, so it wasn't too hard to spot in the sky. The Int'l Designator for this rocket body is 1998-043G.
Up next was a selection (PRC 15 Rocket) that I chose merely because at 8:51pm it was going to be in the sky shortly after the Zenit-2 rocket body went past. It was going to be very dim (4.2 magnitude), low (25 degrees) and it was heading SW to SE. If you're in my backyard, that means it's towards Marysville and the Scott's plant, both of which give off lots of light and kills seeing anything in the horizon to the south. It was more of an exercise of how low and how dim I could see with the naked eye, with lots of light pollution. Needless to say, I failed. Some research after the fact showed I was looking for a Chinese CZ-3 or Long March 3 rocket body which had launched on April 8th 1984. It was carrying a domestic communications satellite known as Dongfanghong DFH-2. The Int'l Designator for this rocket body is 1984-035B.
Quite honestly, the third on the list I picked because of it's long name, Shijian6-3Aptr. It was going to be 87 degrees in the ENE sky at 9:05pm. This was another experiment to see the bounds of what I could see from my backyard looking east (which is towards the road that leads to my house which is lined with like 20 murcury streetlamps. The since I'm in my backyard, however, the house blocks the very bright lights and for the most part, if it's straight up, the sky is still faily black. Anyways, this was another failure, probably due to it's 4.1 magnitude. A little background: This particular item launched on Oct 28 2008. According to the NORAD ID and Int'l Code it's a piece of 'Satellite Debris'. I have no idea what that means, honestly. But whatever it is, it was launched from a Long March 4B Chinese rocket and carried two satellites (SJ-6E and SJ-6F) which were designed to study the harsh environment of space. The Int'l Designator for this rocket body is 2008-053D.
The fourth on the list was Cosmos 1674 (or Kosmos 1674), which was supposed to be going from N to S heading directly overhead at 87 degrees W at 9:08pm. However, I'm not sure I saw that one, exactly. I saw something head over at around 87 degrees in the E and it was more like 9:05pm. I looked at all the sites I have and that's pretty much the only thing during that time span going N to S and being directly overhead, so I'm chalking that one up. It was a 3.5 magnitude satellite. Kosmos 1674 is a Russian spy satellite for ELINT (electronic intelligence) network called Tselina-D and launched on August 8, 1985 but for some reason was end-of-life'd on November of 1985. The Int'l Designator for this satellite is 1985-069A.
So, two out of four (of which two were probably impossible to see from my area). I can't complain about that.
Updated June 21 2011 to put the sightings in my standard template format
Here's the time-line of this evening:
Date: 20-Sep-2010 Monday
8:45 PM - Name: Resurs 1-4 Rocket - Magnitude: 2.1
Int'l Designator: 1998-043-G
9:08 PM - Name: Cosmos 1674 - Magnitude: 2.8
Int'l Designator: 1985-069-A