Thursday, April 16, 2015

Movie: Dragon CRS-6, The Twilight Saga!

Yesterday I did a very successful series of observations on the just launched SpaceX Dragon CRS-6, the Falcon 9 upper stage, and the two ejected solar panel covers, all still very close together at that time, 20 minutes after the launch. See the series of photographs in my previous post.

(movie is HD, click on it to enlarge: this small window will not show it well)

Today, 15 April 2015,  saw successful observations of the Dragon CRS and the Falcon upper stage again. At 19:00 and 19:02 UT (21:00 local time, Apr 15), in very deep twilight, I observed both objects during a near-zenith pass from Leiden. Using the movie function of my Canon EOS 60D, I shot the footage above (enlarge it to full screen - it is in HD- otherwise the two objects will not be well visible).

The sun was at an altitude of only -4 degrees, the sky was still bright blue with barely a star visible (only Venus and Jupiter could be clearly seen). Yet both the Falcon r/b and the Dragon CRS could be easily seen once past culmination and descending towards the east. They were both in the negative magnitudes, due to a very favourable phase angle and short observing distance. They were very fast too: it was quite a spectacular sight!

Both objects passed with a separation of about two minutes in time. The B-object, which is probably the Falcon r/b, was first. The A-object wich is probably the Dragon CRS-6 was next. Both objects were steady in brightness.

I also tried to observe the next pass at 22:34 local time (20:34 UT) but thick cirrus clouds had filled the sky by then. I did see a hazy ISS pass at 20:16 UT but the Dragon of Falcon were not seen.

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