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Caught a peculiar object transiting the diamond ring! Please help identifying

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#1 chordate

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 03:17 PM

Hey guys! I am new to forum and it was such an awesome experience to see and photograph the great eclipse! 

I am pretty new to astrophotography - did a bunch of wide-angle timelapses in cool locations where I camped, but not much for telephoto. I am fairly familiar with scientific imaging from microscopy work, but there are so many more cool techniques to learn and apply to my photography hobby. 

 

One series of images that I caught during the diamond ring stage looked particularly weird to me. Particularly, I saw an object transiting the diamond ring about a minute before the totality. I was hoping more knowledgeable people here would help me out. 

 

The location is Sentinel Rock Park in VT (44.7891921, -72.0308217), the time is April 8 2024, ~15:26:20 (~1 min before totality).

 

Sony A7iii, mid continuous mode,
Canon 100-400mm at 400mm, f5.6
ISO 320,
1/8000s

 

Processed composite of 13 images and imageJ measurements attached, would be happy to share RAW

cropped copy sharpened.jpg

Screenshot 2024-04-11 170532.png

 

This was caught by accident. I was shooting the diamond ring in 6 fps bursts and caught a sharp object quickly transiting in front of the moon/sun. The whole transit took less than a second. The measurements in ImageJ suggest that the object has 1/54 the angular size of the moon (650px/12px=1/54; 0.5degree(moon angular size)/54=0.009 degree) and travels the distance equal to moon angular size (0.5 degree=650px) in ~1 sec (100px/sec). Here is my take on what it could it be:

1. Unidentified satellite. In this case, it is BIG, like bigger than a bus. ISS is a size of a football field and its angular size is about 50% larger than the object. What else like it is in orbit? Nothing is showing up in my sky tracking apps (sky safari, sky guide etc). The speed is consistent with orbital (few km/s). Any better satellite apps out there?
2. High-flying fighter jet. Fighter jets could fly at 20000m, but this object is too small to be a 20m plane at 20km and moves too slow for a jet (calculated ~3m object moving at 600km/h at 20 km altitude)
3. Weather balloon. The size of the object is consistent with high-altitude weather balloon (6~m at 40km), the speed however is impossible (1200km/h at 40km)
4. Drone. The size could be consistent with a high-flying drone (15cm at 1000m altitude moving at 30km/h). Thats illegally high for a drone (almost 10 times the allowed 400ft altitude), but not impossible. Also, the object appears to be in sharp focus at 400mm, f5.6 when focused on the moon, which I would assume means it is kilometers away.
5. It is something else?


Edited by chordate, 12 April 2024 - 03:18 PM.


#2 Starhunter249

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 03:30 PM

I am going to say starlink satellite. I wondered if anyone would capture or view these during this eclipse. Although it could be a different satellite. Starlink satellites are highly reflective. They have been rotated in the orientation to the earth to minimize brightness at night, but you can see their little specks of light even in the twilight hours after sunset.


Edited by Starhunter249, 12 April 2024 - 03:33 PM.

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#3 Anhydrite

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 03:54 PM

I have seen several videos where there are specks the move across the screen like that......they appear to be sensor issues from the extremely bright diamond.

 

I saw the in Backyard Astronomy YouTube video also.  Check his video of totality out to see if it looks the same.


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#4 chordate

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 05:20 PM

I am going to say starlink satellite. I wondered if anyone would capture or view these during this eclipse. Although it could be a different satellite. Starlink satellites are highly reflective. They have been rotated in the orientation to the earth to minimize brightness at night, but you can see their little specks of light even in the twilight hours after sunset.

That would be so cool if it was an illuminated satellite - and good point that the size would depend on reflectivity! I did some additional processing to align the transiting object and then collapsed the stack using median projection in attempt to gain more detail through averaging. It appears that the illumination changes as the transit occurs and in the averaged image there are some darker and brighter features, which would point towards an object reflecting the sun rather then just optical glare in the lens/sensor issue (but 12 pixels is not much resolution to be certain). It could be one of the recently launched ones, not in a final orbit - that would explain why its not showing up in the sky guide apps. 

Attached Thumbnails

  • image_2024-04-12_181353743.png
  • object aligned gif.gif


#5 chordate

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 05:24 PM

I have seen several videos where there are specks the move across the screen like that......they appear to be sensor issues from the extremely bright diamond.

 

I saw the in Backyard Astronomy YouTube video also.  Check his video of totality out to see if it looks the same.

I've been trying to find examples, but couldn't. As I understand the diamond ring provides some weird pinpoint illumination conditions, so I am not sure what optical effects I should be aware of. 

 

Is this the backyard astronomy video?

https://www.youtube....h?v=w3Tjr6xWgcA

Didn't see any specs moving there, could you please point to a timestamp? 



#6 Anhydrite

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 05:55 PM

Sorry,

 

It was the Astrobackyard channel.

 

https://www.youtube....l=AstroBackyard

 

31 second mark.  Several things go by.  Could be insects.

 

Looking at your enhancments....it does look like an object.



#7 chordate

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 07:27 PM

Sorry,

 

It was the Astrobackyard channel.

 

https://www.youtube....l=AstroBackyard

 

31 second mark.  Several things go by.  Could be insects.

 

Looking at your enhancments....it does look like an object.

Thanks for that link, the stuff they filmed looks very similar!! Unsure how a bright light source could make sensor glitch out like that (any discussions on that issue?), but def could be some motes/seeds carried by the wind. Is it possible for a small object to appear so bright when illuminated from behind? Insects seem unlikely given that there was still a foot of snow in VT and probably pretty cold in Quebec as well, but not impossible.

 

What is interesting in the video is that some objects appear out of focus (must be closer to the camera) and some are sharp like the one on my image, which strongly points to some floaters in the air. I guess I expected everything close to the camera to be completely out of focus, but maybe the focal plane is much wider then I thought at 400mm f5,6...



#8 Anhydrite

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 08:20 PM

Thanks for that link, the stuff they filmed looks very similar!! Unsure how a bright light source could make sensor glitch out like that (any discussions on that issue?), but def could be some motes/seeds carried by the wind. Is it possible for a small object to appear so bright when illuminated from behind? Insects seem unlikely given that there was still a foot of snow in VT and probably pretty cold in Quebec as well, but not impossible.

 

What is interesting in the video is that some objects appear out of focus (must be closer to the camera) and some are sharp like the one on my image, which strongly points to some floaters in the air. I guess I expected everything close to the camera to be completely out of focus, but maybe the focal plane is much wider then I thought at 400mm f5,6...

I was going through my footage of the partial phase and a blurry spot flies by....its blurry so I feel its really close to my camera.

Mine is probably an insect.

Yours is much harder to tell.....could be in space.



#9 Mike Spooner

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Posted 12 April 2024 - 10:53 PM

Any chance to use orbital mechanics and Starlink data (approx altitude, mass with gravitational constant, etc.) to compare to the observed time path and apparent velocity and see if it fits? Fifty years ago I might have attempted such a problem but today orbital mechanics just makes my head spin.lol.gif

 

Mike Spooner



#10 Starhunter249

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 07:03 AM

Sorry,

 

It was the Astrobackyard channel.

 

https://www.youtube....l=AstroBackyard

 

31 second mark.  Several things go by.  Could be insects.

 

Looking at your enhancments....it does look like an object.

I didn't think of that, being an insect or a small bird, that might be it.



#11 chordate

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 02:56 PM

I think one likely explanation is honey bees, flying at 15-20 mph at 2000 to 4000ft altitude. The size and speed as well as altitude would be consistent with honey be behaviour, and bees have highly reflective wings which would explain why the object looks bright when illuminated from behind. The hives are now out for the spring and I am sure there are plenty of apiaries in VT. That said, I think there is still a 5% chance it is a space object.


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#12 rengber

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Posted 21 April 2024 - 07:29 PM

I think I captured the same object.   I was in Maine, and my capture was about the same time (I haven't been diligent about keeping my camera clock updated and it was still on Central time, but it's only a minute or so fast).   In any case, we were within a few hundred miles, and my transit is at nearly the same phase of totality as yours.   

I wonder if that amount of distance rules out anything terrestrial (balloon, satellite), certainly rules out birds and bees.   I'm thinking Near Earth Asteroid, though anything passing within one Lunar Distance should surely be known, right? 

med_gallery_490359_26180_2884903.jpg
 

med_gallery_490359_26180_1561904.jpg

 

med_gallery_490359_26180_1859389.jpg

 

Transit
Album: Total Eclipse Maine 2024
4 images
0 comments


Edited by rengber, 21 April 2024 - 07:34 PM.


#13 gbartha

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Posted 22 April 2024 - 08:26 PM

Looks like Icarus to me! grin.gif





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