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#1 Thirteen

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 01:48 PM

Hello... I'm not 100% sure this is the right sub-forum, but couldn't find one that was a better fit. I was imaging the Iris Nebula on the evening of 10-NOV-2013 and had an object pass through 4 of my subexposures. I searched www.heavens-above.com and found nothing. I was hoping to understand what this space junk is. I've had plenty of satellite and plane tracks move through my FOV, but what caught my eye was it's very slow apparent motion. It was caught in 4 of my 60s subs, and transited my 25 arcminute frame in a full 3 minutes. It was also pulsing in brightness so I assume it was rotating at 4 RPM.

Here's what I know
-10-NOV-2013
-8:32PM EST
-Moving past NGC7023 which was very high in the sky at the time
-You can get an idea of the brightness (centeral star in 7023 is a Mag 7)
-Seen from Milford, MI, USA

I stretched the histogram to see better here, this was a 60s frame.

Is this a fools errand?

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#2 obin robinson

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 06:36 PM

What is your Lat/Long? I should be able to figure this one out. Pulsing probably means tumbling rocket body. Pulsing/flashing is a dead satellite. I can still run a simulation and see what it was though.

obin :)

#3 Thirteen

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 08:07 PM

42°35m;37s;N 83°35m;58s;W Not exact, but within a few miles(the closest town).

#4 obin robinson

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 08:39 AM

There are several candidates for that time and section of the sky. These range from Molniya 3-13 or Cosmos 2458 to several unknown objects. If it was tumbling it could have been a piece of Fengyun 1-C debris.

Molniya 3-13 is a dead satellite and it would have been slow moving but not very bright. Cosmos 2458 would have been slightly brighter but not tumbling as it is still functional. The Fengyun 1-C debris would have been at a very low orbit and too fast moving. This leaves the Unknown object as a possibility. Those can range from being pieces of debris to various intelligence gathering satellites which are dead in orbit.

The more precise the time the better the estimate. At least now you have a general idea of what you may have seen.

obin :)

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#5 *skyguy*

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 11:21 AM

I came up with a very good match with the Meridian 1 satellite according to its plotted TLE ... using your location and date:

MERIDIAN is a Russian communications satellite that was launched by a Soyuz-2 booster at 08:34 UT on 2006 December 24. It provides links between aircraft and ships in the North Sea area to coastal stations, as well as between locations in Siberia and the Russian Far East.

The initial orbital parameters were period 727 min, apogee 39670 km, perigee 979 km, and inclination 62.8°.

Nice catch! :)

BTW ... Here is the TLE for the Meridian 1 satellite. It can be used to plot its path across the sky with the appropriate planetarium program:

0 MERIDIAN 1
1 29668U 06061A 13315.80736956 .00000080 00000-0 10000-3 0 6462
2 29668 065.4418 228.3064 6702746 265.6124 021.3543 02.00588771 50421

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#6 Thirteen

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 01:42 PM

Wow... that's pretty amazing. Thanks for showing what is possible. I will look into Heavensat. I didn't even know it existed.

I said rotating, because the streak showed brightness pulsation as it moved, about 4 pulses per streak (1 minute). It is more clear on the image at full resolution vs. what I posted here. I didn't see it visually though, so I don't know how it appeared in actual motion.

I could be more precise with time using the camera's timestamp, if that helps.

#7 Thirteen

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 02:26 PM

thanks, skyguy. That definitely looks like a match to the orientation of the frame and track. That apogee and perigee would explain why it's the slowest satellite I have personally ever seen.

#8 obin robinson

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 04:35 PM

Wow... that's pretty amazing. Thanks for showing what is possible. I will look into Heavensat. I didn't even know it existed.

I said rotating, because the streak showed brightness pulsation as it moved, about 4 pulses per streak (1 minute). It is more clear on the image at full resolution vs. what I posted here. I didn't see it visually though, so I don't know how it appeared in actual motion.

I could be more precise with time using the camera's timestamp, if that helps.


The more accurate all the info the better. I had to filter out lots of layers of TLEs just to get to a few candidates.

thanks, skyguy. That definitely looks like a match to the orientation of the frame and track. That apogee and perigee would explain why it's the slowest satellite I have personally ever seen.


It may well by that satellite. The highly elliptical orbits are fun to track. At the apogee they are SLOOOOW but at perigee the apparent motion is as quick as a jet.

obin :)

#9 Thirteen

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 06:44 PM

Very interesting and I'd like to know how to do this myself. Any resources, links, software recommendations would be much appreciated. I looked through some links in the sticky but not really seeing how you took my data and found intercepting tracks.

#10 prefetch

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 08:25 AM

wow. :bow:

skyguy, how did you do that?

#11 *skyguy*

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 11:14 AM

Thirteen and prefectch .... I use TheSky planetarium program to identify and plot satellites. It can automatically download TLE's (orbital elements) from CelesTrak.com for different satellite categories ... military, geosynchronous, Iridium, GPS, the ISS and many other. However, I usually find it easier to download the complete "bulk" catalog that contains over 39,000 satellites (active and inactive), rocket boosters and debris directly from Space-Track.org for use with TheSky to identify an unknown satellite. Once a satellite is identified, I can use CelesTrak or Space-Track.org to find out information about this satellite.

BTW, Meridian 1 is in what the Russians call a Molniya orbit. Since Russia is located in the far North, placing a communication satellite over the equator in a geosynchronous orbit isn't very practical. So, they use a highly inclined orbit that places the satellite over Russia at apogee for 8 hours ... perigee occurs in the southern hemisphere. Therefore, a constellation of 3 satellites would cover the country for a 24 hour period. Near apogee also occurs over the United States and the satellite will become almost stationary over the Hudson Bay in Canada.

#12 obin robinson

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 11:11 PM

Very interesting and I'd like to know how to do this myself. Any resources, links, software recommendations would be much appreciated. I looked through some links in the sticky but not really seeing how you took my data and found intercepting tracks.


http://www.heavensat.ru/english/

That is the best satellite tracking software available. Free, powerful, and accurate!

obin :grin:

#13 obin robinson

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 11:11 PM

Very interesting and I'd like to know how to do this myself. Any resources, links, software recommendations would be much appreciated. I looked through some links in the sticky but not really seeing how you took my data and found intercepting tracks.


http://www.heavensat.ru/english/

That is the best satellite tracking software available. Free, powerful, and accurate!

obin :grin:






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