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Nanosail-D Launched, potentially 5-10x Venus' mag

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#1 _Z_

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 09:07 AM

If you haven't heard, the Nanosail-D, the first ever Solar Sail launched in space, made it into space on January 20th. It is easily visible when it passes overhead and it will be in orbit for 70-120 days before it re-enters the atmosphere and disintegrates. As it gets lower, it will get especially bright during flares, potentially 5 TO 10 TIMES BRIGHTER THAN VENUS!!

To check when it is visible, you can use www.heavens-above.com, it is listed under the Satellites category.

They also have an astrophotography contest, if you take a picture that includes the solar sail, whether it is a pictures of the sail through a telescope or if it's just a flare shot you can submit your photo and be eligible to win up to $500!! Details here:
http://www.nanosail.org/

Nasa's press relase:
http://www.nasa.gov/...7_NanoSail.html

Here's hoping it really does reach a ridiculously bright magnitude! I bet we'll get a lot of the general public freaking out over a bright thing in the sky too!

Jeremy

#2 WillCarney

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 02:26 PM

So far it's been reported as being very dim. Possibly the angles are not right for bright observation. Most trackers have reported it as being barely visible, if at all.

William

#3 _Z_

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 03:17 PM

Right now heavens-above says it'll be mag 4.5 tonight, which isn't likely even visible in my mag 4 backyard unless I get lucky with binos.

Hopefully the predictions of 5-10x venus' magnitude come true, that would be a site to behold!

#4 bdawg6381

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 09:07 AM

Check this out. Spaceweather is offering cash prizes for the best photo of the nano-sail!!

#5 GlennLeDrew

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 07:14 PM

Five to ten times the brightness of Venus is not so spectacular if we consider Iridium flares. Venus is -4.4m. A 10X brightness increase is 2.5 magnitudes. The brightness would then be -4.4 +(-2.5) = -6.9m, which is not quite as bright as the brightest Iridium events. But making up for this, the duration and amount of sky drifted across could be rather more. On the other hand, if the reflection is strongly angle-dependent, as is the case for Iridium sats, the effect could instead be Iridium-like, but with a faster angular velocity due to the lower orbit.

#6 WillCarney

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 07:49 PM

http://www.space.com...rving-tips.html

To quote the web page:
"Unfortunately, at this particular moment it appears that the angle of the sail relative to the sun and to prospective observers on the ground will be rather unfavorable, and as a result NanoSail-D has been very dim; quite likely invisible to the unaided eye. "

Too bad.

William

#7 mikefulb

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 09:54 AM

If I did the math right this sail will have a size of 1 arc-second:

3m
---------------- * 57 deg/rad * 3600 arc-seconds/deg ~ 1
650,000m


Using 3m for the length of one side of the sail, and 650km as the orbit height.

What exactly are they looking for in a photo of an unresolved object?

Sounds like they need it for photometry?

#8 _Z_

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 10:59 AM

Mike,

They said it would be visible in telescopes if you could track it moving so quickly and that you would be able to see move across the sky and take a photo of it streaking across the sky.

Maybe it'll still be possible to see it because it will become so bright?

#9 mikefulb

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 11:27 AM

I don't doubt that its visible - I just doubt it will be bigger than 1 pixel in an image!

#10 _Z_

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 12:06 AM

Well it'll be a bright pixel! :) Only one way to find out and i'm going to try and catch it.

#11 _Z_

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 01:18 PM

Space Weather has a few photos of the sail flaring already, some reporting it to be as bright in Vega!

#12 kreegan99

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 12:30 AM

This imager got some pretty amazing data of the sail... Absolutely love the vid. The zoom view is blurry and totally amazing!

Peter Rosen's Nanosail-D2 video


we have a bright one coming up here in the northeast on the 15th. May try and see what I can come up with! A very cool object to track either way!

#13 Sharkman

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 03:27 AM

Nanosail is definitely a fast-mover. Would be challenging to capture with a long focal length scope.






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