Thursday, February 28, 2008

Flaring KeyHole USA 129, and two productive evenings

The last two evenings saw a very clear sky again. Tuesday evening was cold and windy, yesterday evening a bit more comfortable. I obtained a rich batch of positions using both the telescope and the camera: 20 positions on 9 objects on the 26th, and 18 positions on 7 objects yesterday evening. These objects include KeyHoles USA 186 and USA 129, Lacrosse 4, the Lacrosse 5 rk, and various NOSS components.

Yesterday evening at about 20:38 UTC the KeyHole USA 129 (96-072A) flared while crossing Perseus. I was observing it through the telescope at that time and noted it was bright and then faded. I cannot give an exact peak time and magnitude however, as I was concentrating on obtaining positions. I had the camera open at that time, and it catched the onset of the flare very nicely:

(click image to enlarge)

Here is the brightness profile:

(click image to enlarge)

I also captured Lacrosse 4 (00-047A) on photograph, and observed it visually. It was on time, but definitely somewhat off-track.

(click image to enlarge)

I tried in vain to spot the USA 193 debris pieces D and K last evening.

Finally, another picture of the KeyHole USA 129 (this time steady in brightness) shot on the evening of the 26th:

(click image to enlarge)

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