Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lacrosse 5 doing its tricks amidst hailshowers

Like the previous evening I was able to observe Lacrosse 5 (05-016A, #28646), during a clearing in between heavy hail showers (you can see one approaching on below image).

At mag. +2.5 to +2.0, Lacrosse 5 was clearly less bright than the previous evening, even though it moved in about the same sky trajectory (but an hour earlier in time).

While crossing under Polaris, it did its infamous "disappearance trick" again, becoming notably fainter in a mere few seconds. This time, although it was beyond reach of the camera sensitivity (the camera has an about mag. +3.5 limit for satellites), I could still see it with the naked eye as a faint mag. +4 object. The drop in magnitude happened while I was making my second exposure, and it is clearly visible how it fades rapidly in the image below. The sudden brightness change happened at about 17:39:26 UTC.

(click image to enlarge)

I managed to obtain two trail pictures (including the one above), plus a third which did not show the satellite as it had become too faint. In all, this yielded 4 points. The satellite was almost a second late now.

A second pass of Lacrosse 5 at 19:19 UTC was missed due to cloud cover.

During twilight I observed a nice impressive pass of the International Space Station (ISS). I watched it as it moved between patches of clouds against a still blue twilight sky, attaining a brightness of about mag. -2 and a maximum elevation of about 62 degrees. It had an orange-reddish colour, something reported by various observers since the recent addition of additional solar panels to the Space Station.


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