Monday, October 04, 2010

8 sat obs - Oct 4 2010

I got a little session in this evening between 8:00pm and 8:45pm by which time a veil of clouds had rolled back in. Nothing of note other than I'm starting to piss off the dogs of my neighbors. They tend not to like people just 'hanging out' and looking to the sky or something. My next door neighbors put their dog out 3 times. He'd come out, bark, they'd pull him back in, then he'd get let out again, then barking, then back in, finally he was let back out but just stayed quiet.

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

8:01pm - Cosmos 783 Rocket - 5.1 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1975-112-B
This is my first sighting of this Kosmos-3M rocket which launched the Russian communications satellite Cosmos 783. To date, this is the oldest object I have seen. I'm currently on the hunt of seeing Cosmos 44 which was launched in 1964. I believe there are a few more visible objects that are earlier than that, but Cosmos 44 is kind of the one I've been trying to catch a glimpse of.

8:05pm - Resurs 1-4 Rocket - 2.5 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1998-043-G
My third sighting of this one.

8:11pm - Iridium 16 tum - 6.1 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1997-030-F
My second sighting of this tumbling Iridium satellite

8:18pm - Lacrosse 5 Rocket - 1.8 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2005-016-B
This is the rocket body for a Titan IV-B rocket. This particular rocket launched the Lacrosse 5 NRO satellite which I spied for the first time the other night. This is my first sighting of this object.

8:21pm - Tansuo 1 LM2r - 3.0 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2004-012-C
I saw this one the other night as well. This is a Long March 2C rocket body.

8:21pm - GRACE 2 - 5.3 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2002-012-B
First sighting! This is one of a pair of satellites for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE). This one is named GRACE 2 or, more politely, Jerry. (Yes, the other one, GRACE 1, is named Tom.) These satellite are measuring gravity. By measuring gravity, GRACE shows how mass is distributed around the planet and how it varies over time. GRACE data are important tools for studying Earth's ocean, geology, and climate. This is where it gets REALLY cool: The key measurement for gravity is not derived from electromagnetic waves either reflected off, emitted by, or transmitted through Earth's surface and/or atmosphere. Instead, the mission uses a microwave ranging system to accurately measure changes in the speed and distance between two identical spacecraft flying in a polar orbit about 220 kilometers (137 miles) apart, 500 kilometers (311 miles) above Earth. The ranging system is so sensitive it can detect separation changes as small as 10 microns—about one-tenth the width of a human hair over a distance of 220 kilometers. Honestly, I should have seen both of them since they were only 30 seconds apart, but I only managed to see one of them. I'll have to make a special note of this one since it wasn't on my list and I only happened by chance to see it.

8:26pm - Okean 3 - 3.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1991-039-A
Second time for this one. I spied this one a few nights ago.

8:32pm - SJ 12 LM Rocket 4-Oct-2010 3.8 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2010-027-B
This is the launch vehicle for the Shijian 12 satellite from Oct 1st (the racing pair). This is a Long March 2D rocket body.

Not bad. 8 objects in 1/2 hour.


Todd S. said...

have to say..I'm enjoying reading the updates on the sky watching :-)

Darrin said...

Thanks Todd... I feel like a big dork writing about this stuff. But it's interesting to me and maybe other science / space geeks amongst my (three) friends who read my blog might think so too. Maybe I should totally let my geekiness out in the open and post my findings on Facebook. Maybe. Maybe not.