Sunday, February 13, 2011

FIA Radar 1 and a flaring Topex near the Andromeda Galaxy

In the evening of Februari 8 I observed the KH-12 Keyhole USA 129 (96-072A) which is becoming visible for my location again, and the FIA Radar 1 (10-046A).

The latter moved close to M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. In the same image is another satellite, Topex (92-052A), which is flaring (it is present in a second image too). All together, this yielded this nice image:

(click image to enlarge)

Topex was part of a joint US/French oceanographic experiment. Launched in 1992, it functioned up to 2005. With the loss of attitude control since it ceased functioning, it has started to tumble, producing flashes.

I also observed the FIA Radar 1 on February 3rd, together with the USA 144 decoy (99-028C)

Yesterday, on Februari 12th after a day full of drizzle, it unexpectedly cleared around midnight, allowing me to photograph the geostationary SIGINT satellite Mentor 2 (98-029A) which at that time was just south of Procyon:

(click image to enlarge)

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