Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Progress M-11M, and a spectacular flare by IGS 1B

At 9:35 UTC on 23rd August 2011, the Progress M-11M spacecraft (2011-027A) which had been attached to the International Space Station (ISS) since June was decoupled from the latter. It will orbit earth on its own for 9 days and will do various measurements, before being de-orbited to burn up over the Pacific.

On the evening of the 23rd near 20:29 UTC (22:29 local time) I watched them both during a fine near-zenith pass. The Progress spacecraft was about 1 minute ahead of the ISS in time, and attained a maximum brightness of mag. +0.5. Below two images show the Progress (top image) and the ISS a minute later(bottom image), both in Lyra:

click images to enlarge

Next I observed the IGS 5 rocket (09-066B), and IGS 1B (a malfunctioned Japanese spy satellite that is up for an uncontrolled re-entry in 2012-2013, see here). Both objects flared.

The IGS 5 rocket stage flared to mag. -0.5 at about 20:35:55 UTC. But IGS 1B (03-009B) flared much more spectacularly, to at least mag. -3 at 20:43:01 UTC, while passing through the zenith! An image of this splendid flare (captured close to the edge of the image) is the top image below, while the bottom image shows it while ascending in the south, just west of Altair:

click images to enlarge

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