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M101 and a Tumbling Satellite?

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#1 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 03:49 PM

I received this image of M101 and what I believe may be a tumbling satellite from the Bradford Robotic Telescope early this morning. Is my assumption correct?

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#2 azure1961p

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 09:43 PM

The time would help in narrowing down the candidate window. It looks like something tumbling to be sure, SL rocket booster or some such. The hour it was taken would help a great deal.

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#3 Carol L

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 03:02 AM

Sure looks like a tumbler to me, Dave - it'd be interesting to know exactly what it was.
(Gorgeous image despite the interloper. :grin:)

#4 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 03:55 AM

Thanks. The image was completed at 06:38:27 UT on Sunday 3 February 2013. I've looked at the passes listed at Heavens Above for the Observatorio del Teide at Tenerife in the Canary Islands during that time frame and didn't notice any satellites or upper rocket stages (at magnitude 5 or brighter) that passed close to M101 about that time.

http://www.telescope...ife_Observatory

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#5 Photobud

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 05:19 PM

Those are rapid fire phaser blasts from the Enterprise out of view to the upper right! :roflmao:

#6 csrlice12

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 06:16 PM

'Scuse me, Tardis coming through, 'scuse me.. :lol:

Don't know what it is, but it looks pretty cool. It is shocking sometimes to be viewing and have a satellite (or worse, a jet plane) flash through the FOV. Can't believe you had time to catch it.

#7 Carol L

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 06:23 PM

Maybe it's just a piece of orbital debris (space junk). :question:

#8 azure1961p

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 10:02 PM

I'm not coming up with anything - partly because of the time zone issues. I've always goofed UT . It's close to GMT. But Im in EST and so much XYZ I can't say I'm getting a look at the sky as it was when you did that image. O6:38 UT is early morning daylight no?

Thanks and my apologies for tripping over the zones and such.

Pete

#9 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 10:25 PM

Pete,

6:38 UT equals 1:38 a.m. EST.

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#10 rogerandgarf

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 11:04 PM

It could easily be a booster rocket, not necessarily from the United States.

#11 azure1961p

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:41 PM

Ahhhhhh a breath of fresh air. I hate UT. I know its astronomies darling and its unifying and so on but I tend to miff it.

Ill see if I can turn up a license plate on the passing UFO.

Pete

#12 wfj

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 08:27 PM

What you need to do is determine the az/alt of M101 at the time of the picture, and with the incidence angle WRT M101 of the flight path, surmise the orbital inclination WRT equator and the likely apsides of the orbit.

If it is a second stage, its almost always still in the plane of the launch point simply due to efficient use of the launch vehicle.

Sometimes you can infer an angular rate (given exposure) - this helps when coupled with the inclination. Spy and Russian communications sats inject into a "Molniya" orbit, which is a highly eccentric ellipse in a highly inclined orbit, done to maximize utilization over a land area of high latitude. I've often found them (and third/PAM stages) when hunting circumpolar galaxies.

LEO constellations and polar orbit sats are completely different kettle of fish (and far more common). I find them more often at more equatorial targets, and there are some geosynch sats that stand out surprisingly well near very common equatorial targets.

My bet is you witnessed a Russian military comm sat 2nd or 3rd stage. Much harder to see the sat itself. There have been some launches lately as they are upgrading/replacing.

But to prove it you'll need to discover the orbital track first, and puzzle out how it could have gotten from one of the launch sites into that orbit. Since upper stages don't usually last on orbit more than hours, its not many orbits before a burn, and its the last stage that handles multiple burns necessary for final injection. Oh, and not everyone does deorbit burns, but final injection often means a very short lived stage.

Hope this helps.

#13 azure1961p

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 10:24 PM

That's quite a lot of information. I'm impressed and enlightened. Thanks.
I'm going to guess this is infact quite short lived as it doesn't seem to fit with anything I've come up with. But you seem to have it down so much better too.


Pete






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