Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Flare evening

Yesterday evening 19-20 May was an evening of unpredicted flares.

It started with the International Space Station (ISS) in deep twilight. After a splendid zenith pass, while at 40 degrees altitude descending to the East, it shortly brightened to a dazzling mag. -8.

Somewhat later, still in twilight, it was the Keyhole USA 129 (96-072A) flaring to mag. 0. I caught one of the flares on photograph, just south-east of Regulus against a bright blue twilight background. Below the image ( plus a detail) and the brightness profile:

(click images to enlarge)

Somewhat later in the evening, I was next treated to a spectacular mag. -7 flare of IGS 1B (03-009B) while it was passing through the zenith, alas just after the camera shutter closed. The flare was a bright orange-yellow and lasted maybe a second (approximate time, not too accurate: 21:25:00 UTC).

Apart from these flaring objects, observations were also obtained of the NOSS 3-4 rocket (07-027B), showing its regular slow brightness variation; the keyhole USA 186 (05-042A), the SAR satellite Lacrosse 3 (97-064A) and the STSS-ATRR rocket (09-023B).

I also visually observed the STSS-ATRR itself (09-023A), but due to pressing a wrong button of the stopwatch lost my two points on it alas.

In all, a very fruitful night!

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