Friday, 3 June 2011

Yet more bright NanoSail-D, and an unidentified object from the same launch

Yesterday evening (Wednesday evening) was very clear and saw another fine pass of NanoSail-D (10-062L), the experiental NASA solar sail. As on previous occasions, it became very bright after culmination, while descending to the southern horizon: reaching an easy naked eye magnitude of +0.5. It is still flashing, but trail saturation on the images meant I could not get a reliable brightness variation curve this time. Below are two images: one that shows it just north of the Coma Berenices star cluster, the other shows it passing south of Bootes into Virgo somewhat later (bright star in the top is Arcturus):

click images to enlarge

Tonight (Tuesday evening) I had another pass, a low west pass at 35 degrees altitude this time. was invisible, to the naked eye at least.

On April 27th, Russell Eberst observed an unidentified object that moves in the same orbital plane as NanoSail-D and appears to be "something" from the same launch (see also here). It was subsequently observed by a number of other observers (and perhaps earlier, on March 3, by Greg Roberts), and yesterday I photographed it:

click image to enlarge

Another object observed this evening was Lacrosse 5 (05-016A).

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