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Is this flashing object I recorded a geosynchronous satellite? Included: video and data

Observing Report Video Astronomy
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#1 CleanSlate

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 04:05 PM

Summary:  I'm a hobbyist seeking helpful comments on a flashing object I recorded.  Is it a geosynchronous satellite? Why or why not? I used a low budget infrared video camera, without magnification. I'm including a link to a four-minute video of my "evidence" and amateur analyses.

 

It seems it possibly (likely?) is a geosynchronous satellite. But I'd like to know with confidence, anticipating I may come across more of these in the future.  I've recorded and examined over 40 videos so far.  This is the first video where I've observed this type of object.

 

Here's the four minute video I created to describe everything:
https://www.youtube....h?v=vnqbynIMPnw

 

Video chapters:
00:00 Intro
00:16 Sequence of extracted video frames showing the flashes back-to-back
01:53 Original video footage
03:20 Coordinates and area satellites according to Stellarium
03:47 Tabulated data of flashes/times
03:52 Stars identification

 

For those who might be interested, here is a link to the untouched original video of the flashing object:
https://www.youtube....h?v=teyg6_IhFHc

 

Overview:
o I recorded a night sky video on 5-17-2024 with no magnification using my inexpensive infrared camera
o I then carefully played back the video to identify any objects
o First flash is seen 49 seconds into video. This corresponds to 23:48:29 PDT (UTC -0700)
o Subsequent flashes seen at 11.6 seconds intervals or multiple thereof (e.g., we might expect an interval to be 23.2 seconds if a flash was missed)
o 44 flashes observed spanning 17 minutes (I tabulated the times of the flashes)
o Flashes do not move with the apparent motion of stars
o Flashes appear to travel slowly southward
o Approximate RA/Dec of flashes (estimated using Stellarium): 15h31m23.94s/-6˚55'48.1"
o Camera location: 37.982435951498566, -122.09097897653982

 

Video camera:
o SIONYX Aurora "Night Vision" (400-1100 nm), 15 fps, 1280x720, 1x magnification
o This is a budget camera. In my experience it seems quite adequate in capturing night objects but not well-suited for detail.

 

My questions:

I'm interested in any/all comments. And in particular I have these questions:

1. Is this a geosynchronous satellite? Why (or why not)?
2. If yes:
  a. Is it common that one can spot a geosynchronous satellite without magnification? (It's surprising to me that a high altitude satellite could be seen this way, but then I don't really know.)
  b. Have you ever recorded a geosynchronous satellite on video?
  c. Do you know of any publicly available videos of an actual geosynchronous satellite that I could view?
3. If no, can you think of any likely candidates for what it could be?

 

About me

I'm a retired engineer doing this for fun (and the wife is happy to have me outside the house more lol). I've spent a number of evenings just setting up my camera in the backyard and pressing "record." :-)

 

Thank you again.


Edited by CleanSlate, 23 May 2024 - 04:46 PM.

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#2 Sincos

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 05:31 PM

welcome.gif CleanSlate . Could be , maybe , I don’t know . Tool around on this site for some insight. ,

 

https://www.heavens-above.com/ 

 

 Good Luck and Clear Skies



#3 Mark9473

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 06:01 PM

I see a star that flickers just like the other stars do.


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#4 CleanSlate

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Posted 24 May 2024 - 12:55 PM

welcome.gif CleanSlate . Could be , maybe , I don’t know . Tool around on this site for some insight. ,

 

https://www.heavens-above.com/ 

 

 Good Luck and Clear Skies

Will do.  Thank you



#5 CleanSlate

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Posted 24 May 2024 - 12:58 PM

I see a star that flickers just like the other stars do.

Hi, thanks for having a look.  It does resemble a flickering star initially.  That's when I noticed that it's flashing at a very regular frequency (11.6 seconds), and does not move in tandem with the other stars across the sky.



#6 Steve OK

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Posted 24 May 2024 - 01:17 PM

With the declination of the flashes shown to be around -7° declination, that puts it in the proper location for a geosynchronous satellite as observed from around 38° N latitude.  Another clue is that the object appears nearly stationary with respect to the camera, which I assume was also stationary.  The stars seem to show the expected westward motion.  The flashing could be attributed to rotation of the satellite.  I would say there is a fairly high probability that this is a geostationary satellite.  I've seen bright "flares" from geostationary satellites with the naked eye, so it is not difficult to capture an image of them. 

 

Steve


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#7 CleanSlate

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Posted 24 May 2024 - 04:48 PM

With the declination of the flashes shown to be around -7° declination, that puts it in the proper location for a geosynchronous satellite as observed from around 38° N latitude.  Another clue is that the object appears nearly stationary with respect to the camera, which I assume was also stationary.  The stars seem to show the expected westward motion.  The flashing could be attributed to rotation of the satellite.  I would say there is a fairly high probability that this is a geostationary satellite.  I've seen bright "flares" from geostationary satellites with the naked eye, so it is not difficult to capture an image of them. 

 

Steve

Hi Steve, and thank you.  Your summary seems spot on -- very helpful!  And that's cool you've seen the flares of a geostationary satellite unaided.  I never would have guessed these could be viewed so readily.

 

BTW, last night I captured two more on video, this time in the vicinity of RA/Dec 14h52m18.06s/-2˚24'06.3".  Similar behavior as in the original video.  I guess I'll be busy lol. 

 

- Mike



#8 Asbytec

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Posted 25 May 2024 - 07:14 AM

I remember the first time I unexpectedly ran across a geosynchronous satellite star hopping through Orion. It startled me. I wondered if this was going to be my first encounter with a UAP. Na... I looked it up and believe it was listed as a "Chinasat." A regular series of one quick bright flash followed by one or two dimmer ones. It was bright enough, and I thought I may have seen it flash once visually. It looked almost exactly the same. So, my guess is that's what you captured. 



#9 Fabricius

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Posted 25 May 2024 - 11:02 AM

I also suspect that this is a geosynchronous satellite.

Analysis of the first flash and identification of the stars:


geosynchronous satellite candidate.jpg

The azimuth and altitude of the object put it in the proper location for a geosynchronous satellite at position 108 degrees west longitude, slightly south of the equator at the time of observation (i.e. above the Pacific Ocean).

 

Several other geosynchronous satellites are close to this position:

 

geosynchronous satellites nearby.jpg

 

I used Celestrak.org and JPL Horizons to calculate the positions at the time of observation and observer's location:

 

name of spacecraft [International Designator] - longitude - inclination of orbit - azimuth - altitude above horizon - percentage of illumination

 

Echostar-17 [2012-35A] - 107.1 West - incl 0.02 - azim 156.48 - alt 43.28 - 98.55% illuminated

AMSC-1 [1995-019A] - 107.5 West - incl 12.61 - azim 160.44 - alt 37.06 - 99.57% illuminated

GOES-14 [2009-033A] - 108.6 West - incl 0.28 - azim 158.63 - alt 44.05 - 98.43% illuminated

 

 

 



#10 *skyguy*

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Posted 26 May 2024 - 09:18 AM

I'll also confirm that the flashing object is ... probably ... a geostationary satellite. The fact that it is stationary pretty much seals the deal. However. since there is not an exact match, it places some doubt on this object's true identity. Further research needs to be done.

 

Sat_Flash.jpg



#11 CleanSlate

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Posted 26 May 2024 - 11:01 AM

I remember the first time I unexpectedly ran across a geosynchronous satellite star hopping through Orion. It startled me. I wondered if this was going to be my first encounter with a UAP. Na... I looked it up and believe it was listed as a "Chinasat." A regular series of one quick bright flash followed by one or two dimmer ones. It was bright enough, and I thought I may have seen it flash once visually. It looked almost exactly the same. So, my guess is that's what you captured. 

Thanks for this.  And thanks for sharing the cool experience in Orion albeit no UAP.  Next time!


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#12 CleanSlate

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Posted 26 May 2024 - 11:02 AM

I also suspect that this is a geosynchronous satellite.

Analysis of the first flash and identification of the stars:


attachicon.gif geosynchronous satellite candidate.jpg

The azimuth and altitude of the object put it in the proper location for a geosynchronous satellite at position 108 degrees west longitude, slightly south of the equator at the time of observation (i.e. above the Pacific Ocean).

 

Several other geosynchronous satellites are close to this position:

 

attachicon.gif geosynchronous satellites nearby.jpg

 

I used Celestrak.org and JPL Horizons to calculate the positions at the time of observation and observer's location:

 

name of spacecraft [International Designator] - longitude - inclination of orbit - azimuth - altitude above horizon - percentage of illumination

 

Echostar-17 [2012-35A] - 107.1 West - incl 0.02 - azim 156.48 - alt 43.28 - 98.55% illuminated

AMSC-1 [1995-019A] - 107.5 West - incl 12.61 - azim 160.44 - alt 37.06 - 99.57% illuminated

GOES-14 [2009-033A] - 108.6 West - incl 0.28 - azim 158.63 - alt 44.05 - 98.43% illuminated

Thanks for your detailed analysis! It seems to further confirm my original hunch. And it's great knowing it might have even been one of these satellites.
Also Cartes du Ciel and JPL Horizons are new too me;  I'm adding them to my arsenal. :-)



#13 CleanSlate

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Posted 26 May 2024 - 12:24 PM

I'll also confirm that the flashing object is ... probably ... a geostationary satellite. The fact that it is stationary pretty much seals the deal. However. since there is not an exact match, it places some doubt on this object's true identity. Further research needs to be done.

 

attachicon.gif Sat_Flash.jpg

Thanks for this further analysis.  May I ask what software the screenshot comes from?



#14 CleanSlate

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Posted 26 May 2024 - 12:37 PM

Thanks all for the great feedback. 

 

I'm curious now if folks have opinions on what is the "best" software or service for identifying a satellite with high certainty?  Is it even possible to know for sure which satellite it is?

 

My experience with Stellarium, for example, is that it's catalog of satellites seems not 100% complete. This is even after I added all of the TLE sources from Celestrak.org to the list of sources.

 

Also I'm assuming orbits of certain satellites (e.g., military) are not publicly available...?



#15 gnowellsct

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Posted 27 May 2024 - 07:26 PM

It certainly is a geostationary something. The static position relative to the stars nails it.

It could be geostationary space junk. That does exist. I watched geostationary space junk approach Saturn probably 10 years ago. But space junk tends to have more erratic flashing patterns because it's tumbling without any stabilization.

There are people who are into this stuff and Mark it down and keep track of it and tell you where you can find it. I'm not one of them. I think there's some information at heavens-above.com

#16 CleanSlate

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 11:52 AM

It certainly is a geostationary something. The static position relative to the stars nails it.

It could be geostationary space junk. That does exist. I watched geostationary space junk approach Saturn probably 10 years ago. But space junk tends to have more erratic flashing patterns because it's tumbling without any stabilization.

There are people who are into this stuff and Mark it down and keep track of it and tell you where you can find it. I'm not one of them. I think there's some information at heavens-above.com

Thank you!




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