Sunday, March 20, 2011

Flaring Keyholes in a moonlit sky, and a BWGS meeting

The "Supermoon" of yesterday was not my only observational target. The sky was very transparent, and hence even with this full "supermoon" low in the southeast, conditions were fine for satellite observations.

I imaged two Lacrosses and two KH-12 Keyholes: Lacrosse 3 (97-064A), Lacrosse 5 (05-016A), USA 129 (96-072A) and USA 186 (05-042A). In one of the images, Rubin 4/SL-8 (03-042B) was captured as a faint stray.

Both of the Keyholes and one of the Lacrosses (Lacrosse 3) flared: KH-12 USA 129 did so while the camera was open, yielding the picture below (note the Hyades at the bottom):

click image to enlarge

Flare times:

USA 129: 20:29:08 UTC
USA 186: 20:14:40 UTC
Lacrosse 3: 19:52:40 UTC

Below images show Lacrosse 3 ascending and brightnening over the chimney (with Canis minor in the upper right corner: this was just before it flared), and Lacrosse 5 descending through the tail of the Big Dipper (the fuzzy arc is a reflection from a nearby lightsource):

click images to enlarge

These observations were all done just after returning from a trip to Belgium, where we had a meeting of the BWGS (Belgian Working Group Satellites). It was a small but nice gathering (six attendants, including this author). Below some pictures showing me (left) and Leo Barhorst (right): and BWGS president Bram Dorreman (all pictures taken by Koen Geukens):

click images to enlarge

On the agenda were amongst others the future of flash observations; the observations of flaring geostationary satellites earlier this month; while I did a very short photo-presentation on the recent PAN relocation story (see also here). Our host that day was Koen Geukens.

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