it was a cold one this evening, but there were a few satellites from some of the years that I haven't seen yet floying overhead. It was fairly clear this evening and the neighbors mostly behaved (yay!) Managed to catch two satellites tonight including one of the ones that I wanted to see. I was actually working on my peripheral vision when I spotted one. Some parts of your peripheral vision are more sensitive to light. I was looking in the general direction of where one of the older satellites was going to be, though it appeared to be too early. Well, between the time I printed out my list on Thursday and tonight, there were some adjustments made to this particular satellite. It was showing up earlier and brighter. After doing a thorough check of the database, I determined that by luck I saw what I was trying to see. Awesome!
Here's the time-line for the evening of:
Date: 23-Jan-2011 Sunday
7:53 PM - Cosmos 1833 Rocket - 3.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1987-027-B
This is my third sighting of this Zenit-2 rocket which launched Cosmos 1833, a Russian Tselina-2 ELINT satellite.
8:11 PM - Timation 1 Rocket - 4.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1967-053-B
This is my first sighting of this object (and also the first sighting of an object from 1967). This particular object is a Thor-DM21 Agena-D rocket (from the Thor-Ablestar family of rockets). This particular rocket had (I believe) 8 payloads. The main satellite launched was Timation 1, a satellite designed to provide accurate time reference. It helped pave the way for GPS systems. Here is a pic of what Timation 1 looked like.
The Other satellites launched are a bit tricky to figure out what they are exactly since most of them were for the US Dept of Defense. :
* Two GGSE (Gravity Gradient Stabilization Experiment) satellites (GGSE4 and GGSE5).
* Two radar calibration satellites that were part of the Calsphere program, called Calsphere 3 and Calsphere 4. One was 16 inches in diameter and another was 20 inches in diameter. These were part of the SURCAL program. I'm only guessing that these are one in the same. SURCAL 160 was the 20 inch satellite. SURCAL 150B was the 16 inch satellite. Not sure which was Calsphere 3 or 4.
* Two U.S. ELINT satellites (Poppy 5) that were part of the Poppy ELINT systems (NRL-PL 151 and NRL-PL 153). Here is more info on the Poppy satellite system. These are SURCAL 152 and SURCAL 153. The existence of the POPPY program was only declassified in 2005, though most of the details of this program are still classified.
* Another satellite was SURCAL 159 was was some sort of radar calibration satellite (which is what they called the rest of them as well).
One site shows that 053F was Calsphere 3, so... as you can see... it is really really confusing on what sources to believe and what exactly was sent up there when all this crap is still mostly classified. Some sites refer to an 053A, but NASA doesn't even acknowledge this one... but the numbers seem to work out anyways... NASA has 8 objects listed and other sites have 8 objects listed as well. I think this has to two with the sequential object numbering. Why NASA doens't have an A.. I have no idea. Could be that a piece of debris (which the NASA site does not have information for) was considered A or something). It's all very confusing.
I still need to see satellites from the following years: 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1969, and 2011 :-). Only 8 more years to go. The early years will be the hardest. 1965 and forward probably won't be a big deal if the clouds behave themselves when they need to.