Monday 21 July 2008

Early Ammonia Servicer (EAS)

This evening the sky was very dynamic: very clear, but also with lots of small rapid moving cloud fields traversing the sky.

I observed the Early Ammonia Servicer (EAS), 98-067BA, making a near zenith pass. Untill a year ago, EAS was part of the International Space Station ISS. On July 23rd 2007, during an EVA (Space Walk) by the ISS astronauts, it was detached from the station and ejected in space. Since then, the object, about the size of a large US refridgerator, has steadily spiralled down and currently is down to a 273 x 283 km orbit (ISS is at a 338 x 351 km orbit). If the current rate of decay continues, it will burn up in the atmosphere late 2008 or early 2009.

I observed it a year ago shortly after its release from ISS, and it was faint then, about magnitude +4 to +4.5. I observed it again this evening, and due to its much lower orbital altitude compared to last year it now reached mag. +2.5, perhaps even +2.0, in Cygnus while just past the zenith descending to the east. It moved fast.

I also managed to capture it on photograph, using the Canon EOS 450D and the EF 50/2.5 Macro lens stopped to +2.8. The image is below.

(Click image to enlarge)

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