Friday, January 21, 2011

shovelling snow, spotting satellites

It was a cold mofo this morning. I knew that I was going to have to shovel the driveway, but I also knew there would be few and far between at work, so I was in no hurry to get out there... until I peeked outside and could see the stars. It's been cloudy as all hell (hell has clouds???) lately and I haven't been able to see ANYTHING!!! So I put on my glasses, got geared up and went outside to shovel and spot satellites. Of course, I've since learned that going outside with glasses when it's cold out and trying to wear a scarf is a no-go for spotting sats. Your glasses steam up like noone's business. So, I wrapped mostly my neck (which was the coldest anyways). I would shovel a little bit, then look to the heavens. Lather, rinse, repeat. So, I managed to spot a couple, one as the sun was practically coming up... and that one was hard since it was really really dim to begin with, on top of the sky in the east bleaching out and the moon almost being full and also in the west... so only looking straight up was is still mostly dark. I wasn't even sure I saw anything until I went and looked at the times on the satellite databases. Yee freakin' haw. I'm hoping for a late night session tonight (aka 10pm) but the clouds seem to have rolled in.. so I guess we'll see.

Here's the time-line for the morning of:
Date: 21-Jan-2011 Friday

6:50 AM - Lacrosse 5 Rocket - 1.6 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2005-016-B
This is my third sighting of this Titan IV-B rocket booster which launched the NRO recon satellite Lacrosse 5.

7:13 AM - COBE - 4.8 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1989-089-A
This is my first sighting of COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer). This is the bad-ass satellite that helped George Smoot (fans of the The Big Bang Theory TV show should know who this guy is) and John Mather win a Nobel Prize in Physics because it essentially proved that the Big Bang likely happened... or something like that. In the words of the Nobel Prize committee: "the COBE-project can also be regarded as the starting point for cosmology as a precision science". This satellite checked for cosmic microwave background radiation. It was launched using a Delta 5920 rocket (and was the only launch of both the specific 5920 model and the Delta 5000 series). This satellite did some cool stuff that is WAY over my head.

No comments: