Tuesday 24 October 2006

Progress-M58 observed

The Progress-M58 cargo ship (06-045A, #29503; NASA for odd reasons foolishly and confusingly calls it "Progress 23") was launched yesterday from Baikonur, bringing supplies to the International Space Station. It will dock at the ISS on the 26th.

I observed it this evening under far from ideal circumstances: at an elevation of only 30-35 degrees, and seen through a hole in flying cloud cover, it crossed Aquila around 17:59:30 UTC just before it went into eclipse. It was very fast, at a steady magnitude +1.5.

Standing with my back pressed against the northern wall of the compound, looking south over the courtyard, I could see it grazing the roof of my house. Below is the photograph I obtained: maybe not quite spectacular, but I am glad I catched it at all. The start of the trail coincides with it clearing the roof edge! The image yielded 2 positions, with similar delta T (about +1.7s with regard to elsets then available).

Of course, a few minutes after this pass it was completely clear...

(click images to enlarge)

Yesterday evening I had dinner with Frans Rietmeijer, one of the Stardust scientists and an authority on IDP's. He is a personal friend and was in Holland for a.o. a Workshop. Over an Indonesian-Dutch "Rice table" he told me some interesting things about the preliminary mission results.

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