Monday, July 04, 2011

Imaging geostationary satellites using a remote telescope [UPDATED]

I have been using the "remote" telescopes of Sierra Stars observatory in California and Winer Observatory in Nevada for some time now to image asteroids (recently, earthgrazing NEA 2011 MD).

The past two days I have used the Sierra Stars Obs. 0.61-meter Cassegrain telescope to make some "remote" images of classified geostationary satellites that are not visible from the Netherlands, but visible from the western United States. It concerned the recently launched SBIRS-GEO1 satellite (11-019A) and the mysterious object (90-097E) that is most likely Prowler, launched in 1990 on STS-38.

Below are the images: as this is a guided telescope, the satellites have created trails on the images. Top image: Prowler. Bottom image: SBIRS-GEO1, plus an unidentified object (UPDATE: the latter object might be the SBIRS-GEO r/b).

click images to enlarge


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