Tuesday, September 23, 2014

USA 186, bright and fast

USA 186 (top) and an old Russian r/b (1988-039B, lower corner)
click image to enlarge

Yesterday evening at the end of twilight, I observed USA 186 (2005-045A) pass amidst some scattered clouds. It had cleared just in time.

Close to perigee, the satellite was moving fast. At 70 degrees elevation due East, it became bright (about mag. +1.5), and then briefly flared to mag -1 near 19:06:20 UTC (22 Sep).

A second bright object was moving lower in the sky, and slower. It was an old Russian rocket from the Kosmos 1943 launch in 1988, 1988-039B.

Unfortunately, it later became completely clouded, so I missed this morning's favourable pass of the ISS and Dragon CRS-4, just hours before berthing.

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