Saturday, 4 June 2011

NanoSail-D Galore

Yesterday evening, I observed a twilight pass (sun at -7 degrees altitude and a still bright blue sky) of NanoSail-D, the NASA experimental solar sail (see earlier posts here). It passed at 44 degrees in the east, and after culmination became very bright again, flashing to mag. 0.

Because of the bright twilight sky I had to tone down the ISO to 400 and diaphragm to F4.0. The images show the flashing behaviour very neatly, and I obtained two spectacular sinusoid brigthness curves (the second one is from the image shown):

click images to enlarge

The flash period is definitely slightly variable, varying between 1.2 and 1.5 seconds with an average of 1.35 +/- 0.12 seconds.

With the current orbit, decay is projected for mid-August.

note added: click the 'Nanosail-D' label below to see later posts on NanoSail.

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