Saturday, January 02, 2010

Off to a good start: a GOCE and a Lacrosse 2 flare

2010 started off well with a very clear evening of January 1st. I observed GOCE (09-013A), the Lacrosses 2 & 3 (91-017A & 97-064A), the tumbling NOSS 3-4 Centaur rocket (07-027B), and the HEO objects USA 179, 184 and 200.

I was treated to two small flares: one by GOCE (09-013A) and one by Lacrosse 2 (91-017A).

The GOCE flare was a mild one to about +3, at 17:32:58.0 UTC. It was caused by the 67.5 degree panel. The time of the flare (accurate to 0.1s) yields an angle of 93.2 and tilt of 66.3 with a nominal mis distance to the theoretical flare path (angle 90 degrees, tilt 67.5 degrees) of 19.4 km at the time of observation (and closest approach to 17.1 km 1.2 seconds earlier at 17:32:56.8 UTC).

So far, all the GOCE mild flares I observed were with an angle ~93 degrees. The distance to the nominal flare path of this one was much less than for the three flares previously observed by me, but that doesn't seem to have much influence on the observed flare brightness: they were all around +3 magnitude.

Below are the picture, the derived brightness profile, and a depiction of the flare path geometry based on Simone Corbellini's Visual Sat-Flare Tracker 3D software.

click images to enlarge

Unexpectedly, I also captured a brief (<0.5s) flare/glint by Lacrosse 2 (91-017A) at 17:56:58.4 UTC. Below is the image and the resulting brightness profile:

click images to enlarge

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