Monday, April 02, 2007

More KH flare fun

Observing a flare as a bonus to position determinations keeps being the icing on the cake for me. Last night Keyhole USA 186 (05-042A), the real one this time ;-) , did it again. I flared to magnitude -1 in the zenith at 21:01:10 UTC.

My camera opened about 10 seconds later, when the satellite was already well past the flare maximum. It is still of about mag. +2 at the start of the trail on the image, but fades to invisibility during the exposure.

Other targets imaged last night were the SAR satellites Lacrosse 5 (during two passes) and Lacrosse 2.

Lacrosse 2 (91-017A) was 2.3s early. Lacrosse 5 (05-016A) 0.4s late. USA 186 was on-time.

I am eagerly awaiting the opening of the springtime visibility window of the Japanese radar satellite IGS 1B (03-009B). After several years of operation this satellite recently reportedly failed in orbit. While operational its orbit was tightly controlled by almost daily small orbit manoeuvres keeping it very steady. It is interesting to see whether that level of control is now dropped (early results by other trackers indeed suggest such).

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