Monday, December 13, 2010

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, it's cold!

I got to do my first shoveling of the year. I think we had about 3 inches in the driveway. While shoveling I managed to see one satellite. Yay!

Then I drove to work and the car turned over 100k. And somehow, with only .7 miles to go from when I had last looked at it, I missed that magical moment. I had to do the clover leaf at 33 and needed to pay attention to the yay-hoos who were driving REALLY slow. I didn't realize it until I got to about Sr 42 and I looked down and it was at 100004.something. I was so excited about it too. I thought MAYBE that it would roll over on my drive out of the neighborhood. But nope. Oh well. Sometimes life goes like that. You miss something that you think will be the greatest thing and then a day or two later you realize it wasn't that big of a deal in the first place.

It was clear this evening so I got to go out and shiver me timbers off outside. I only spotted 3 this evening. I should have had 5 but just at two satellites were going to cross in the sky, looking straight up, as little patch of dense clouds came through 5 minutes before they satellites would have been overhead and stayed there until 2 minutes after my window had past. By that point my cheeks were frozen since I wasn't smart enough to put on a scarf, so despite having another 1/2 hour worth of things to check out, I went in. I was cold.

But even seeing those 4 today was more than I've seen probably in the past 3 weeks.

Here's the time-line for:
Date: 13-Dec-2010 Monday

6:45 AM - Lacrosse 2 - 1.6 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1991-017-A
This is my third sighting of Lacrosse 2, the NRO recon satellite.

6:22 PM - Zi Yuan-2B (or JB-3) - 3.0 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2002-049-A
This is my 6th sighting of Zi Yuan 2B, the earth imaging satellite from China.

6:33 PM - Spot 1 r DebY (or SPOT 1 Rocket Y) - 2.2 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1986-019-Y
This is my first sighting of this object. This is a piece of rocket debris from either an Ariane 1 rocket which launched two satellites: SPOT 1 and Viking. First, about the rocket. The Ariane 1 was ESA's (European Space Agency) first rocket. It was designed to put two satellites into orbit at a time. This particular launch was the last for the Ariane 1, which gave way to the more powerful Ariane 2 and Ariane 3. The Ariane 1 was a four stage rocket. I'm not sure if debris Y is one of those stages or what. There were quite a few pieces of debris associated with this particular rocket launch. Dunno. And now a little bit about the two satellites: SPOT 1 was the first of five French remote sensing satellites. SPOT 1 had imaging capabilities and had a resolution of 10 to 20 meters. The other payload was Viking, Sweden first satellite. According to Wikipedia, "Viking was used to explore plasma processes in the magnetosphere and the ionosphere." Yeah, I really don't know what that means. Read up on it because learning about how a satellite "could measure the electric field of the earth in all three dimensions" sounds kinda cool to me.

6:34 PM - Cosmos 2428 Rocket - 4.9 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2007-029-B
This is my third sighting of this Zenit-2M rocket body which launched a Russian Tselina-2 ELINT satellite.

Just out of curiosity, I still need to see satellites from the following years: 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1973, and 1979. I figure out of those 11 years, probably 7 of those years have satellites or rocket bodies that are visible with the naked eye. The others will probably require binoculars or maybe even a telescope to see. It could be that the winter months will provide me force me to be more selective and if I have a something specific to see (such as something from the years I haven't seen yet), that will help me make a more 'educated' decisions... unlike tonight when I had an hour and a half's worth of satellites to see when it was 20 degrees with a wind chill of something like 10 degrees.

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