Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-129 and the STSS Demo-2

Yesterday evening it unexpectedly cleared, in front of a storm depression. This allowed me to observe Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-129, launched the day before and on its way to the ISS.

I observed it twice: first around 16:24 UTC, in deep twilight with the sun only 6 degrees under the horizon. It made a pass culminating at 40 degrees, and was easily visible, especially past culmination. Its brightness was mag. -01 or thereabout.

The second time I observed it, twilight had ended and the sky was dark and clear. The Shuttle stayed low however, entering Earth shadow at 27 degrees altitude short after rising in the west. I made this picture with the Canon EOS 450D and the EF 50/2.5:

click image to enlarge



Next three objects were targetted with the EF 100/2.8: USA 184 and USA 179, both in Molniya orbits, and the USA 144 Decoy (99-028C).

Unfortunately, due to a human error the images came out slightly out of focus. The USA 179 and the USA 144 Decoy series were still measurable though.

At the end of the session, a telescopic observation (Meade ETX-70 at 13.5x, stopwatch and Ted's Obsreduce) was done on one of the recently launched STSS Demo objects: STSS Demo-2 (USA 209), 09-052B. It was only 1.3s early relative to Ted's latest elset.

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