Saturday 25 February 2006

Defeated by clouds again

After a whole day with a bright blue frosty sky, mid-altitude stratus clouds moved in around dusk. Alas, a pity, because there were a number of potential targets this evening.

Lacrosse 5 and Murphy...

Soooooo.......I had the alarm clock set to try to catch an early morning pass (4:47 am local time) of Lacrosse 5 with the camera...

And I've seen Lacrosse 5 indeed, starting at a blazing mag. -1 descending below Corona Borealis...... Nice......!

Even have it on photograph joke, I realy have.


Yep, screwed it up indeed. So no measurements... * beats head on desk *

I slept through the first alarm of my alarm clock. Then was woken up by the repeat 8 minutes later. 8 vital minutes later, because now I had to hurry...

To make a short story long....was in a hurry....rushed outside onto the courtyard....set up tripod and installed camera, looked up to point it.....: saw a blazing -1 Lacrosse, already there....

Panic! Open that camera you fool!

* click *

Arrrghhhh, wrong camera setting!!! Shoot shoot shoot shoot!

Basically, I forgot to set the 10-second timer and pre-select infinity focus. I have a nice picture with a bright trail but as the timing calibration of the exposure start depends on the camera settings, it's worthless for astrometry.

There was a gnashing of teeth in the night that must have woken up many of the neighbours.....

Friday 24 February 2006

First observations at the new location!

After a long period with grey skyscapes and generally uncomfy weather, the skies turned into a beautiful blue today. So I ran Quicksat to see what passes I could target.

Only low passes (all below 50 degrees altitude) were available. Lacrosse 3 turned out to be just too faint at this low pass. The Lacrosse 5 Rocket body (2005-016B, #28647) however, was well visible, passing just under Polaris at 48 degrees altitude. It varied in brightness between roughly +2.0 and +3.0. The trail showed up well enough on the image to measure it and yield good results.

This is a perfect example of a pass that could not have been targetted at my old location (which, remember, had no view to the north).

I had some trouble initially with Astrorecord, who it seemed could not get a good fit on the stars. After only a few stars, it started to report outrageous fits of 99'98" and all kinds of strange messages popped up. Initially, I thought this might be due to the fact that I was measuring stars strewn around the celestial pole. After some time however, it transpired that one single misidentification (!) of a star f***** up the fit: I had mistaken 24 Cas for 18 Cas (Cassiopeia was at the edge of the frame). With that corrected, the fits yielded the typical 30" accuracy.

Friday 17 February 2006

From Cospar 4352 to 4353

The move has been completed! Station 4352 has changed location and become 4353.

Last Sunday we transferred all my belongings to my new home, last days I spend unpacking, and although the later has not been completely finished yet, I am more or less settled here now.

Now waiting for clear skies....

Saturday 4 February 2006

Suitsat becomes Mutesat....

Last night during an EVA, ISS station commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev released an old Orlan spacesuit into space. NASA-TV had some wonderful footage of the spacewalk and release of the expired suit, which was hurled into space by hand by Tokarev.

As a gimick, the suit had been fitted with a.o. a battery-powered radio transmitter, transmitting a 1 Watt signal at 145.990 MHz. The transmission should have included voice greetings, telemetry spoken by a voice synthesizer, and slow-scan TV.

Should: because all radio amateurs eagerly waiting for a pass behind their receivers were disappointed. Suitsat ceased transmitting very shortly after release and thus rather became "Mutesat". I was behind my scanner-radio too, during the 6:06 and 7:41 UTC passes, to hear only static.

See also:

Thursday 2 February 2006

New Cospar ID and coordinates

With the move, SatTrackCam will of course get a new Cospar ID. Pierre Neirinck has assigned my new location the Cospar ID number 4353.

The coordinates of the new site are:

WGS84: 52d 09' 14.84" N, 4d 29' 26.90" E
(52.15412 N, 4.49081 E)
0 meter ASL

This is 0.55 km due south of my previous location.

The new home of SatTrackCam...!

I got the keys to my new home yesterday. So I have been amusing myself with measuring up the apartment, making a map of it, and trying to fit my existing furniture in it. In the configuration I finally settled on, I would have room for an extra wardrobe, an extra part to my bookshelves (doubling it in size, and this is much needed as in my current home the books pile up against the wall because of a lack of available shelve space) and a low extra cabinet to extend my desk. So, a trip to IKEA on the 11th.....

I also made a GPS measurement in the central courtyard of the complex, and of course shot several pictures, a few of which can be seen below.

The open door on the right of the 3rd image is the entrance to the small hall giving acces to my appartment, and the larger window and the small window to the left of it belong to my appartment. The kitchen shown in the pictures will be replaced with a new one this month by the housing corporation.

So: now let the painting and other indoor construction works begin.... I have settled the move itself on February 12th.