Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bright Keyhole Satellites

A late report on my observations of Wednesday evening 12 March.

After a strong gale in daytime the sky cleared in the evening, although fields of clouds still came and went. A near first quarter moon in the sky was no real nuisance.

Several objects were observed: NOSS-es 2-3 and 3-4 and the NOSS 3-4 rocket, plus two KeyHoles: USA 129 and USA 186.

USA 129 (96-072a) was bright again just after it emerged from eclipse. I observed it telescopically and obtained a photograph, yielding 4 positions in total. The visually obtained data dn the photographically obtained data agree well. The image is below and shows it near Castor and Pollux:

(click image to enlarge)

The other Keyhole observed, USA 186, flared short and bright while the camera was open:

(click image to enlarge)

96-072A was 0.5s early, 05-042A 0.5s late, 07-027A on-time, 07-027C perhaps some 0.3s early (I might have been a tad "fast"with the stopwatch on this one though), and the rocket 07-027B was 1.6s late. The 96-029 C & D components were both 0.4s early, the E component 0.2s early.

Yesterday evening (Saturday 15 March) the sky was too hazy to do serious satellite observations. I did shoot some nice moon images though. Below is an image of the craterland on the southern hemisphere (click it to see it at full screen, full resolution), plus a mosaic image constructed from 3 partial moon images. They were taken through my Meade ETX-70 with my Canon Digital Ixus 400 compact camera.

(click images to enlarge)

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