Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

My wife is very cool. She got me a telescope for Valentine's Day. Yay! It's nothing huge, just a little ol' starter telescope but that's all I really need right now since I have no idea what I am doing.

In other space news, I managed to catch one satellite yesterday morning while looking through the glass of the front door. This is actually quite difficult because of the lights inside as well as the ability of glass to distort and degrade light coming from stars. I also managed to get a good hour plus outside last night in the brisk air. It wasn't too cold out but the wind nearly knocked me over a couple of time. I had about 3 old satellites on the list this evening, however currently the moon nearly overhead around 7:00pm so it washes out alot of the sky and the older objects were going to be very dim so, alas, I did not get to knock off any of the older years. When spotting things in the east, I would have to hold my hand or arm up to block the moon. That doesn't seem like much effort until you have to do it for a couple minutes straight. You arm gets tired quite quickly.

Here's the time-line for the morning/evening of:
Date: 13-Feb-2011 Sunday

6:47 AM - Cosmos 2360 Rocket - 3.2 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1998-045-B
This is my first sighting of this particular Zenit 2 rocket which was used to launch the Russian Tselina-2 ELINT satellite, Kosmos 2360 on July 28 1998.

7:00 PM - Cosmos 1763 Rocket - 3.6 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1986-052-B
This is my first sighting of this Kosmos-3M rocket which was used to launch the Russian Strela-2M military communications satellite Kosmos 1763 on July 16 1986.

7:03 PM - COSMO-SkyMed 1 - 2.7 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2007-023-A
This is my 10th sighting of COSMO-SkyMed 1, an Italian earth observation satellite.

7:26 PM - ADEOS Rocket - 3.3 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1996-046-C
This is my first sighting of this Japanese H2 (or H-II) rocket which was used to launch the ADEOS 1 (Advanced Earth Observing Satellite 1) satellite. The H2 was launched only 7 times and succeeded in 5 of those launched. The creation of the rocket was an exercise in using existing technologies. It first launch was early 1994. Unfortunately, due to reliability and cost factors, it was retired in 1999 after losing its last 2 payloads, including one which self destructed.

7:28 PM - Shijian6-3Aptr (or CZ-4B DEB) - 3.8 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2008-053-D
This is my second sighting of this object which is some debris from a Long March 4B rocket. This particular rocket was used to launch a pair of Shi Jian 6 satellites, namely SJ-6E and SJ6-F on October 25 2008.

7:34 PM - Meteor 3M Rocket (or SL-16 R/B) - 3.1 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2001-056-F
This is my second sighting of this Zenit 2 rocket body. It was used mainly to launch Meteor 3M, a joint Russian-US environment/atmosphere meteorological satellite. According to NASA, this rocket also launched four other satellites: Kompass (a Russian for exploring earthquake prediction capabilities), BADR 2 (a Pakistani satellite for updating the status of ground based commanding stations), Maroc-Tubsat (a Moroccan test satellite for a 3-D attitude control system), and Reflector (a US satellite whose acronym means Retro-reflector Ensemble For Laser Experiments, Calibration, Testing & Optical Research).

7:49PM - Meteor 1-31 Rocket - 2.8 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1981-065-B
This is my fourth observation of this Vostok-2M rocket which was used to launch the Russian Meteor 1-31 meteorological satellite.

7:55 PM - Meteor 2-4 Rocket - 3.7 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1979-021-B
This is my first sighting of this Vostok-2M rocket which was used to launch the Russian Meteor 2-4 meteorological satellite in 1979.

8:02 PM - Helios 1B - 3.9 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1999-064-A
This is my ninth sighting of Helios 1B, the French photo-reconnaissance satellite.

8:18 PM - Cosmos 2406 - 3.1 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2004-021-A
This is my first sighting of kosmos 2406, a Russian Tselina-2 ELINT satellite. It was launched into orbit using a Zenit-2 rocket.

I tried to spot satellites from 1960, 1965 and 1966 last night, but their just weren't bright enough to be seen by the naked eye. I still need to see satellites from the following years: 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1965, 1966, and 2011. Only 7 more years to go.

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