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What was that in the sky? Probably easy answer for non n00bs!

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#1 molder

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 08:42 PM

So I was watching Saturn for about an hour tonight in NY from 8:30-9:30 (beautiful night!).  On 2 occasions I saw some blueish colored ball go from 11 oclock to 5 oclock across the EP in about .5-1 second.  It was about the same size, maybe slightly bigger, than the stars visible in the EP.  I was using a Nexstar 6SE with a 9mm EP so about 167x magnification.  Wondering what I saw?  Like I said, super newbie here.  I assumed it was a satellite but wanted to ask people who know!  TIA!


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#2 Napp

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 10:32 PM

A satellite crossing through the eyepiece field is extremely common.  Happens almost every night I set up.  Sometimes I see meteors cross the field, too, but not as common.



#3 tog

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 10:49 PM

Bats and plenty of bugs will fly into your field of view this time of year.



#4 Gamewarden

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 07:08 AM

lots of geese here.



#5 aeajr

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 07:33 AM

So I was watching Saturn for about an hour tonight in NY from 8:30-9:30 (beautiful night!).  On 2 occasions I saw some blueish colored ball go from 11 oclock to 5 oclock across the EP in about .5-1 second.  It was about the same size, maybe slightly bigger, than the stars visible in the EP.  I was using a Nexstar 6SE with a 9mm EP so about 167x magnification.  Wondering what I saw?  Like I said, super newbie here.  I assumed it was a satellite but wanted to ask people who know!  TIA!

First, let me welcome a fellow Long Islander to Cloudy Nights.   Lots of astronomy people on Long Island and it is an active community.  There are several clubs in the area as well as observatory grade scopes that are open to the public.  PM me if you want to discuss.  I have a club meeting tonight at 8 pm in Centerport if you want to attend.  We welcome visitor.

 

Assuming that was a 9 HD 60 eyepiece, the field of view would only be about .3 degrees, a shade more than half of the width of the Moon, so it will pass through quickly. 

 

I have had satellites pass through the field of view many times.  Once I had two pass through going 90 degrees to each other.

 

Birds and bats also pass through the field creating a blur.

 

You might also have seen a very high flying airplane pass through.  If they go buy fast enough, you are at a high enough magnification, you won't even notice light blinking.

 

Lots going on in the atmosphere. 



#6 macdonjh

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 08:56 AM

I'd guess a satellite since you said the object was blue.  If it didn't blink I would think "satellite" even more. 

 

It could still have been a plane, even if it didn't blink (as aeajr said, it went by so fast you might have caught it "between blinks"), but the brightest lights on a plane are the port and starboard lights which are green and red.



#7 molder

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 01:26 PM

Thanks for the advice everyone! I assumed satellite as it was definitely in the EP an in the atmosphere and not something obstructing my vision.  Thanks aeajr, I will PM you.



#8 t_image

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 05:53 PM

So I was watching Saturn for about an hour tonight in NY from 8:30-9:30 (beautiful night!).  On 2 occasions I saw some blueish colored ball go from 11 oclock to 5 oclock across the EP in about .5-1 second.  It was about the same size, maybe slightly bigger, than the stars visible in the EP.  I was using a Nexstar 6SE with a 9mm EP so about 167x magnification.  Wondering what I saw?  Like I said, super newbie here.  I assumed it was a satellite but wanted to ask people who know!  TIA!

You likely saw USA 75 and maybe O3B FM2 or FM11 that passed rather close to Saturn around  that time from your location.

Or you might have seen earlier Ekran 19 or later Tele X.

Except for the O3B ones (Mid Earth Orbit), the others are very far away (old Geostationary except now in inclined Geosynchronous orbits-a bit off of the typical Clarke Belt where the Geosats are parked --ie travel at the same speed the Earth rotates so stay still so one can aim a satellite dish and keep it there.....).....

 

So your tracking and following Saturn probably added more speed to see them pass across your FOV than their changing position across the sky (O3B would move across faster as MEO),

either I guess would explain the reported 1/2 to 1 second duration across with such magnification,

planes and the typical Low Earth Orbit Satellites that people can see visually moving across the sky would be across your FOV in a flash, not 1 second.....

 

Remember also your reported (11 o'clock to 5 o'clock) is based on your perspective, probably using a reflector with a diagonal?

So corrected my listed candidates would travel across a proper oriented alt/az view from about 4 to 10 (maybe 5 to 1)and on a GEM even flatter.....(ie West to East travel)..

 

The color and "size" are most likely more due to optics (blue=greenish chromatic aberration) as these objects would not be resolvable from their distance (geos=36,000km) O3B=8000km, as opposed to the very large ISS at 400km that is resolvable is size and shape.

 

Because we are approaching the Equinox (ie Sun is more in plane with Earth's Equator) the Geos and Meos that are way far out start appearing brighter due to Sun/satellite/observer angles....

 

Thanks for providing:

observation time

location

and precise position in sky (ie Saturn)

and speed (across given FOV). That's all that is needed to determine which satellite one has seen.....

Of course if the true precise details were noted I could say which ones with more certainty...

calsky.com is a complex but good site for such.........

You can also look up and anticipate particular satellites that will transit across popular objects (like planets/ DSOs, Sun/Moon)......People enjoy capturing transits of the ISS across the Sun/Moon this way!!!

 

Cheers!



#9 *skyguy*

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 06:42 PM

What you observed was most likely a telescopic satellite, a rocket body or satellite debris At any given time ... day or night ... there's well over 2000 objects somewhere in the sky overhead. No wonder it's no longer unusual to spot an orbiting object passing through a telescope's FOV.

 

A couple of good possibilities that passed close to Saturn during the 1 hour period as seen from Long Island:

 

1.) Orbicomm FM 115 #41186 (communication satellite) at 8:33 PM .... closest approach: 3.2  arc-minutes.

 

2.) USA 75 #21805 (military survallance satellite) at 9:06 PM .... closest approach: 7.3 arc-minutes

 

3.) Thorad Delta 1 R/B (rocket body) at 9:29 PM ..... closest approach: 2 arc-minutes

 

Nice Catch .....




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