Sunday, 29 January 2012

FIA Radar 1 through the Pleiades, and Geostationary satellites in Orion

 click image to enlarge

The picture above (10s exposure taken with a Canon 450D and SamYang 1.4/85 mm lens) shows the classified military Radar reconnaissance satellite FIA Radar 1 (10-046A) sailing smack through the Pleiades last Friday.

Friday evening started clear, and I took the opportunity do so some observing. Using the SamYang 1.4/85 mm and the Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar MC 2.8/180mm, I not only obtained the picture of FIA Radar 1 above, but I also targetted some geostationary satellites, imaging several of them in Orion.

Among the targets were the classified military communication satellite Milstar 5 (02-001A), the SDS data relay satellite USA 227 (11-011A) and the SIGINT satellite Mentor 2 (98-029A). Two other classified objects were captured as by-catch of these objects: the SIGINT satellite Vortex 6 (89-035A) and the object "Unknown 110623" (11-674A), an amateur-discovered object in GTO that is probably a spent rocket booster of a military launch. Note how it created a tiny trail in the image below as it was moving northwards through Orion.

The images below show these objects. Milstar 5, Vortex 6, UNK 110623 plus the two non-classified commercial communication satellites Eutelsat W2 (98-056A) and Intelsat New Dawn (11-016A) are all in the same 10-degree wide 85mm image. The stars of Orion's belt are visible in the top of the image, and Milstar 5 is close to the Orion Nebula. Orion's belt stars are visible at left in the Mentor 2 image as well.

click images to enlarge

In one of the other images taken last Friday evening, another commercial geostationary communication satellite, Intelsat 4 (95-040A) was captured while it briefly flared brightly at about 18:58:30 UTC (27 Jan).

The FIA radar and a number of geostationary objects (Mentor 2, Mentor 4) and the NOSS 3-3 r/b were imaged by me two weeks earlier as well, observations on January 14 and 15 which I had not reported here earlier. I also tried to relocate PAN, which recently has been relocated again but so far has not been recovered, although both Greg in South Africa and I in the Netherlands have tried.

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