Friday, April 15, 2011

IGS 5r flaring, and more USA 129 KH-12 in perigee

Over the past week I was able to observe on April 8, 9 and 12. I already reported on my April 9 observations of the new USA 227 (NROL-27) geostationary SDS here.

On April 12, I observed the Japanese optical reconnaissance satellite IGS 5A (09-066A) and the rocket that launched it, the IGS 5 rocket (IGS 5r, 09-066B), as well as the old American experimental satellite MSX (96-024A).

To my surprise, the IGS 5 rocket treated me on a bright slow mag 0 flare at about 20:43:27 UTC while it was making a pass in the east, near the tail of the Big Dipper. Below image shows the slow flare, with as an inset a second image made 20s later, showing it at its more usual brightness:

click image to enlarge

displayed a brief modest flare as well (mag. +1) at about 21:28:43 UTC.

IGS 1B (03-009B), another, older (and now defunct) Japanese IGS, was captured as well ( I will post more on IGS 1B shortly, probably at the end of next weekend, as it is coming down within a year from now):

click image to enlarge

The KH-12 optical reconnaissance satellite USA 129 (96-072A) was still making near-perigee passes over the SatTrackCam observatory, resulting in fast passes and long trails. I had to revert to the 24 mm wide-angle lens to avoid the object running out of the FOV.

Below are two images showing it ascend over the rooftop of the SatTrackCam observatory. The first image shows it in the front body of Leo: the second image shows the head and front body of Leo at left, Castor and Pollux in Gemini at right, the head of Hydra in the bottom, and the trail of USA 129 close to the M44 (Praesepe) cluster in Cancer:

click images to enlarge

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