Monday, April 09, 2007

Chasing Keyholes

The past two evenings where very clear again. I spent them chasing Keyholes and Lacrosses.

USA 129 (96-072A) and USA 186 (05-042A) provided some nice flares again. On Saturday the 7th, USA 129 displayed a slow -1 flare at 20:01:00 UTC, and a +2 flare very low in the west during the second pass at 21:38:40. The next evening, its cousin USA 186 flared to mag. 0 at 20:22:30 UTC in pretty much the same local sky area as USA 129 did the previous evening. In both cases they peaked in brightness before my first exposure started, and I catched them fading again (see image below).

I also obtained my first point on the Japanese radar sat IGS 1B (03-009B) since its reported failure. It came out of eclipse just above the rooftops, the trail on the image is still faint and hence I am not too confident in the single position I obtained.

In the next few weeks, moving away from spring equinox, the IGS-es will come higher and higher in the sky. There is a new set of recently launched IGS objects I hope to start tracking besides IGS 1B.

As usual the Lacrosses were covered again too. Lacrosse 5 (05-016A) did its "disappearance trick" again on the 7th at 19:30:17 UTC. The other Lacrosse target was Lacrosse 2 (91-017A).

For yesterday evening, I had USA 129 less than 0.1 s "late", but clearly off-track by 0.08 degree. USA 186 was as much as 0.9s late but on-track. Lacrosse 2 was less than 0.1s "early" and on-track.

The image below shows USA 129 (96-072A) some 15 seconds after a flare peak, still being mag. +2, crossing near the Coma cluster on the 7th.

(click image to enlarge)

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