Saturday, October 02, 2010

13 in 1 night

Just when I figured my 10 in one evening record would stand for a while, two days later I bested my efforts. It was probably the extra half hour. Lil N went to be extra early this evening, so I got to go out on Oct 1 2010 from 8:00pm to about 9:30pm. Of note was that I saw seven in a row that were on my list... technically (I later figured out that I didn't see the one sat in the list but in fact saw a different altogether). Towards the end of the evening, I had two sets of neighbors on either side of me with their backyard lights on. Amazingly enough, since many of my targets were in the NE, it didn't bother me at all. Also of note, I've been trying to see the Fengyun 1C debris (Int'l Code: 1999-025-CVT). According to the one site, this should be fairly bright. However, I'm starting to believe that it's not viewable by the naked eye since it's about 2200 objects floating around. Possiblythe magnitude noted was for the satellite before China blew it up.

Here's the time-line of this evening:
Date: 01-Oct-2010

8:05pm - COSMO-SkyMed 3 - 3.5 Magnitude
Int'l Desginator: 2008-054-A
This was the first sighting of the evening, the first sighting for this object (and my first official satellite flare sighting I believe) and it wasn't even on my list. However it was basically in the same direction and altitude as the first satellite one on my list, but it was going the opposite direction. COSMO SkyMed 3 is an Italian recon satellite and carries a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) which means that multiple photos of the same object are taken and combined to achieve a high-resolution photo than the originals.

8:05pm - NOSS 3-2 Rocket / Atlas 2AS Centaur - 3.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2003-054-B
The NOSS 3-2 rocket body showed up 30 seconds after seeing the SkyMed flare. The NOSS 3-2 rocket body for the Centaur second stage of an Atlas 2AS. This vehicle was launched (reportedly) the NOSS 3-2 (aka USA 176) satellite for the Naval Ocean Surveillance System. This is my first sighting for this satellite.

8:11pm - Tansuo 1 LM2r - 3.3 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2004-012-C
This is a Long March 2C (CZ-2C) rocket body. This particular vehicle launched the Tansuo 1 (or probably more commonly known as Shijian 1) satellite which was going to be taking stereographic photos of Chinese land resources.

8:19pm - NOSS 3-4 Rocket - 2.6 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2007-027-B
First sighting! This is a Centaur second stage of an Atlas V rocket. This particular vehicle, launched the NOSS 3-4 satellite. That makes two objects connected to the NOSS program. This particular object appears to tumbling as it was 'strobing' every 1 to 2 seconds. These are always quite pleasing to see since it's just more than a 'little star' flying across the sky.

8:28pm - Meteor 2-6 - 5.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1980-073-A
I saw this one and the next one pretty much within seconds of each other, but they were heading in opposite directions. A first sighting for this object, this particular object is Meteor 2-6 which is one of many weather satellites launched by the USSR as part of the Meteor program. The NASA description is much cooler though: "It carried scientific and meteorological instruments, an electrosupply system, a radio system for precise measurement of orbit elements, an orbit correction system, and a radio telemetry system. "

8:28pm - Lacrosse 5 - 3.3 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2005-016-A
First sighting for thsi tricky little booger. This object is one which I've spoken of before. Lacrosse 5 is the National Reconnaissance Organization recon satellite which has the 'disappearing act'. And yes... that is exactly what I saw. It was fairly bright and then it disappeared within a couple of seconds. Interesting. Also interesting is that the Lacrosse satellites use the same SAR technology mentioned earlier for the SkyMed 3 satellite.

8:34pm - Shijian 12 - 5.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2010-027-A
8:34pm - Shijian 6-3B - 4.9 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2008-053-B
A first for both satellites. I saw this these two literally racing each other across the sky in the same path. Shijian 12 was being followed by Shijian 6-3B by around 2 or 3 seconds. In the sky that looks like about 2 or 3 inches apart. It was pretty sweet to see, honestly. It should be noted that they were launched 2 years apart. At the time of viewing they were both 593.7km above the earth. Shijian 12 is one of Chinese 'practice' satellites. Shijian 6-3B (or Shijian 6F), based on the int'l designator and the NASA site was one of a pair of satellites launched at the same time. This satellite and it's brother are possibly Chinese military satellites, but other sites list it as being designed to test the harsh environment of space.

8:44pm - Cosmos 2360 Rocket - 3.0 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1998-045B
The Cosmos 2360 rocket body is from a Zenit-2. Its payload, the Kosmos 2360 (or Cosmos 2360) is an electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellite. This is my first sighting of this object.

8:53pm - Shijian6-3Aptr - 3.3 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2008-053-D
First sighting for this ... object from the Shijian 6 satellite deployment. It's probably part of the Long March 4B rocket which launched the two satellites; possibly the cover which shields the satellites on their ride into space (but that's just a guess on my part).

9:12pm - Cosmos 2428 - 2.6 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2007-029-A
Cosmos 2428 is another Russian military ELINT satellite that is probably part of the Tselina-2 program and possibly the last satellite launched as part of this initiative.

9:18pm - Resurs 1-4 Rocket - 3.3 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1998-043-G
This is a bright old faithful which I have seen before. It seems to be on the lists I create everyday. I did a little more research and this particular Zenit-2 rocket launched SIX satellites in one shot. It appears that they were from various countries as well. There were satellites from Russia, Chile, Thailand, Israel, Australia and Germany. Interesting.

9:31pm - Cosmos 1833 - 4.1 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1987-027-A
Cosmos 1833 is another Russian ELINT satellite (and another first sighting). Of note: I saw the rocket body which launched Cosmos 1833 on September 25 2010. I've started an Excel sheet with all my sightings, so it'll be interesting to see how many Cosmos pairs (both rocket and satellite) I've seen. Actually, it appears that another Cosmos I saw tonight (Cosmos 2428) is currently the only other pair that fits that fits this bill. Oh, also of note: This is the first satellite I've seen which was listed as being at an altitude of 90 degrees (i.e. straight up). I've had 89's before, but this is the first true straight-up satellite... and it even wasn't on my list. I just happened to see this one while looking for another (which I never did see).

It's really late... so I'm going to bed. As my wife told me a half hour ago "6:00am comes too soon". Let me know if I made any typos or have any broken links.

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