Friday, 17 September 2021

Inspiration4 Crew Dragon over the old Leiden Observatory

click to enlarge

The image above, which I shot yesterday evening (16 September 2021) around 19:24 UT, shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon Inspiration 4 with astronauts Hayley Arceneaux, Christopher Sembroski, Sian Proctor and Jared Isaacman onboard, over one of the domes of the old Leiden Observatory. This observatory is located in the center of Leiden, the Netherlands, close to my home.

The photograph is a stack of 37 1-second images taken between 19:24:05 and 19:25:19 UT with a Canon EOS 80D and EF 2.5/50 mm lens (at 800 ISO). The dome is the dome of the 50-cm Zundermann telescope. The brightest "star" is Jupiter, and the second trail near the bottom of the image next to the dome is an aircraft.

Inspiration 4 is the first Crew Dragon mission that was not commissioned by NASA and does not go to the International Space Station. Instead it will orbit for 3 days at an altitude of 570 x 580 km. The orbital plane is inclined by 51.6 degrees and does match the ISS orbital plane, although not the ISS orbital altitude. It was chosen so that the launch could use existing emergency and abort facilities on the launch track. 

Inspiration4 (2021-084A) was launched from pad 39A at Cape Canaveral on 16 September 2021 at 00:02:56 UT. The launch coincided, with a difference of only a few minutes, with a pass of the ISS:


While I was photographing the pass (which was a low elevation pass in late twilight at 25 degrees maximum elevation) from a spot at the Witte Singel opposite the observatory, my video setup was running on an automated schedule from my loft window and captured the spacecraft as well (WATEC 902H2 Supreme camera with 1.4/35 mm lens at 25 fps):

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