Sunday, May 13, 2007

USA 161 flare, beautiful evening

Yesterday evening was very clear, thanks to a strong wind blowing the clouds away. I could observe until 3 am, when clouds came in again.

Highlight of the session was Keyhole satellite USA 161 (01-044A). It was very bright for much of its pass (about +2) and then flared to mag. -1.5 at 00:00:46 UTC. It was so nice to do that while the camera was open: image is below.

Other catches included Lacrosses 3 & 4 (97-064A & 00-047A) and IGS 1B (03-009B). One of the Lacrosse 3 images also captured a stray, which turned out to be the Kosmos 2292 SL-8 rocket (94-061B). Several other bright strays were seen, three of them flaring nicely, while preparing the camera.

I had USA 161 some 0.6s late, IGS 1B some 2.6s late, Lacrosse 4 some 0.4s late, and Lacrosse 3 some 0.3s early.

(click image to enlarge)

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