Thursday, October 07, 2010

Chopped up session...

Haven't been able to go out for sat viewing because of all the clouds as of late. Well, last night I got a chance, but it was very chopped up. I went out around 7:30pm / 8pm. Lil N wasn't asleep yet, so of course as I went outside Lil N said 'You going outside to mow the lawn', so I did what any respectable father who did not want to disappoint his little one would say and said 'yes, i'm going to mow the lawn' :P So I got about 15 to 30 minutes in when my wife opens the door and hands me the phone. My mom had left our house and was going to visit a family friend at the James Center. However, literally when she got to the hospital, she turned left instead of right and ended up in downtown Columbus, so I had to attempt to get her to 315 N. She did most of the work on her own since she kept rattling streets off so fast that by the time i found one she had mentioned, she had already passed three or four more. Then she saw a 315 sign and I said 'uh... follow those'. So, after about 10 minutes I went back out for about 10 minutes, then the neighbors let out their dog which they have done as of late. And of course he starts barking and I didn't want a repeat of the other night where they let him out and then call him back in 5 times over the course of an hour. So I went inside. The wife suggested I go out the front door and then just stay towards the side of the house. Seemed reasonable enough, though the bright ass street lamps were killing my night vision. Eventually I went to the side of the house and it wasn't so bad there. And I got to see a satellite I had been planning (though not tried) to see and got it on the first shot. Then, no more than 30 seconds after saying 'There you are!', the light came on and the dog came out and I went back in for the evening.

Here's the time-line of this evening:
Date: 06-Oct-2010 Wednesday

7:56pm - COSMO-SkyMed 3 - 3.3 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2008-054-A
I think this is my second sighting of COSMO-SkyMed 3. The last time was on Oct 1 2010. Another little factoid for the COSMO SkyMed program: The plan is to have 4 satellites. Currently there are only three up there (obv SkyMed 3 is the third and most recently launched satellite). SkyMed 4 is planned to be launched on Oct 29 or Oct 30 this year! The satellite will be launched atop a Delta-7420-10C.

8:00pm - GEO-IK 1 - 5.1 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1994-078-A
First sighting! GEO-IK 1 is a Russian satellite which is designed to survey the earth and also carried experimental "Elekon" positioning equipment to monitor movements of land and sea transportations, to optimize and increase efficiency. The satellite was launched using a Tsiklon-3 booster rocket. This was actually the last in a series of satellites launched with the same function as part of the Russian GEO-IK (Musson) program. Amusingly enough, while this is one was the last one launched, it was named GEO-IK 1. All of the previous 13 satellites were given Kosmos names (Kosmos 1312, Kosmos 1660, etc).

8:27pm - Cosmos 841 Rocket - 3.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1976-069-B
Launched in 1976, this is a Kosmos-3M rocket body. Its payload was the Kosmos 841 satellite which was for gov't and military communication, primarily between the Russian Federation and its oversea stations. This is my first sighting of this rocket.

8:28pm - Tansui 1 LMr2 - 3.6 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2004-012-C
I believe this is my second sighting of this Long March 2C (CZ-2C) rocket body. The first time was on Oct 1 2010. Here is a series of photos for the entire Long March 2 series of Chinese rockets.

8:47pm - Meteor-3M 1 - 5.6 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2001-056-A
This is the first of a series of Meteor-3M satellites. The Meteor satellites in general are Russian weather satellites. The 3M series of satellites also had secondary functions, such as the testing the "spherical retroreflector for precise laser ranging. The retroreflector is a glass ball 60 mm in diameter, fastened in a holder providing observation from Earth at elevations more than 30°". Yeah, I have no idea what any of that means, but it sure sounds nifty. Also of note, the Zenit-2 which launched the Meteor 3M-1 on Dec 10 2010, also launched an additional 4 satellites (Kompass, Badr B, Maroc-Tubsat, Reflector). This is my first sighting of this object.

8:57pm - Resurs 1-4 Rocket - 2.5 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1998-043-G
Ye olde (and bright) faithful.

9:07pm - Lacrosse 5 - 2.8 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2005-016-A
Ah... the Lacrosse 5, we meet again and again and again. This sighting was less of a 'disappearing act' and more of a session of peek-a-boo. It appeared to be more strobing in nature and never fully 'cloaked' itself.

9:11pm - Cosmos 2360 Rocket - 3.0 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1998-045-B
This is a Zenit-2 rocket body which launched Kosmos 2360, another in a long line of electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellites.

9:29pm - Ablestar 008 aka Transit 4A Rocket - 4.6 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1961-015-C
First sighting! This was really the only thing I wanted to see this evening. I couldn't have given two hoots if I didn't see anything else this evening. This is the rocket body for a Thor Ablestar or Thor Able-star rocket. It was launched on June 29, 1961. This thing has been spinning around the earth for nearly 50 years (or 49 years, 3 months, 7 days -or- 17,996 days to be exact). This particular rocket is known as Thor Ablestar 008. It had 3 satellites in its payload. Transit 4A was part of a first satellite navigation system. It was later replaced by the now well known Global Positioning System (aka GPS) but only ceased their navigation functions in 1996. There's other cool stuff about the Transit-4A (and it's brother Transit-4B who was damaged by a high altitude nuclear test known as Starfish Prime.

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