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Satellite Spotting

hobbit
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Satellite Spotting

Unread postby hobbit » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:21 pm

One of the things I enjoy when in my Marloth Park home is to have a sundowner on our terrace, watching the sky darken and the incredible sight of the milky way come out.
Whilst waiting to hear the first lion call, I often spend time lazing back on a lounger and looking for satellites passing overhead.

For a half hour or so after dusk it is possible to spot satellites as they are still in sunshine, so you can see what looks like a small star moving quickly across the sky.
Some of these are real satellites, earth sensing, communications etc.
Others can be old rocket stages, large amounts of junk, and sometimes you can see the Hubble telescope or the International Space Station.
If you know when and where to look you can even see the toolbag dropped by the astronaut on the last Hubble repair mission, although you will need binoculars for that.
Most of the time they are steady, but occasionally one will be variable, sometimes disappearing altogether. This is usually because the object is spinning or tumbling in its orbit, with different parts having different reflectivity.

There are several websites that can predict what you can see from your location at a given time and date.
I use the following:
http://www.heavens-above.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
A fascinating site - lots of info about all sorts of things.

Now who is going to start a list of satellites spotted :D

Happy skywatching
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pepperjuice
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Re: Satellite Spotting

Unread postby pepperjuice » Fri Feb 06, 2009 8:28 pm

Could this be a Satellite. Top right.
One of my first attempts at Star Trails.

In East Africa/Equator we spotted Satellites quite often.

Image

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deefstes
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Re: Satellite Spotting

Unread postby deefstes » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:13 am

Hi pepperjuice. Yes, that looks very much like a satellite.
I wouldn't be surprised if it's an Iridium Flare.
What was the exact date and location of that photograph?

Awesome pic by the way!
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ndloti
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Is there a space shuttle currently orbiting the earth ?

Unread postby ndloti » Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:19 pm

Last evening from my home town roughly 50 km south of Johannesburg at about 6:36 pm I saw an apparently fairly fast travelling and relatively low and large object pass overhead in a roughly north easterly direction (from the south west) .
Could it be a space shuttle or is it a large or low altitude satellite ?
KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.

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Re: Is there a space shuttle currently orbiting the earth ?

Unread postby chirinda » Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:13 pm

You probably saw the International Space Station which was scheduled to have passed over Joburg in that direction about that time yesterday. The brightness was -3.5 which would have made it a good sighting. I missed it :( .

The next NASA space shuttle is apparently scheduled for November, don't know about Soyuz.

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Re: Is there a space shuttle currently orbiting the earth ?

Unread postby DuQues » Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:10 pm

ISS is very easy to see, and your most likely candidate.

It won't be a soyuz, they are actually quite small, with few solar panels. And none is scheduled to arrive at ISS at the moment.
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ndloti
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Re: Is there a space shuttle currently orbiting the earth ?

Unread postby ndloti » Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:03 am

Thanks folks , it reminded me of a similar sighting which was in fact a space shuttle passing over Olifants wilderness trails camp in the mid 90's (?) .
KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.

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shane
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International Space Station Viewing

Unread postby shane » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:01 pm

As we all know, KTP is a most wonderful place to view the heavens at night. To add extra excitement to you viewing, I want share the following:

Whenever we visit KTP, I always print out the passes for the International Space Station (ISS) over KTP for the duration of our stay.

Image

It is a beautiful sight as it is by far the brightest satellite in the sky. At times brighter than venus (the evening or morning star). Children love the thrill and affords the parents a wonderful opportunity for some 'on site' education.

How to get the information, visit the following web site:

http://iss.astroviewer.net/observation.php

Once you have opened the page, change your location using the map or by typing in the co- ordinates in the space provided. I have insert an extract from the web site for the rest of November 2012. I selected the 29.11.2012 which drops down the ground plot map of the ISS path over KTP. Brief explanation:

The ISS on this date will appear visible 10 degrees above the horizon in the SW at 18:38:22 in the evening, passing over at 75 degrees (almost directly overhead) and disappearing in the NE at 10 degrees above the horizont at 18:44:52. Therefore, it will be visible for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. It's maginute (or brightness) will be -3.2mag, which is exceptionally bright.


Image

When it passes overhead just remember there is at least 5 people living on board at anyone time.
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Re: International Space Station Viewing

Unread postby Lonehill_Birders » Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:59 pm

Avet,
The conditions in the park are fantastic for astronomy ! Very low ambient light levels in most camps as the closest light source is 250 km away (Uptington). Best viewing time is about 9:30 PM after the ground heat dies away , be warned depending on what time of the year you go that the nights can be very very cold -11C we experienced. It is also great for star photography. In places like Kilikrankie it is possible to observe the entire horizon around you 360 degrees without obstructions. Great place for star swirls around the southern celestial pole , do some homework on how to find it.
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shane
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Re: International Space Station Viewing

Unread postby shane » Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:29 am

Avet, I agree with Lonehill, KTP is a perfect place to view the stars. Especially Kielie as Lonehill mentioned.

Find a darker part of the 3 main camps or wait till lights out at Nossob and Mata Mata.

To find the south celestial pole use the constellation Crux and the two brightest stars in Centaurus, Rigil Kent and Hadar. These stars are sometimes called the “Southern Pointers”. Extend an imaginary line through the long axis of the cross, from the star at the top (Gacrux) through the star at the bottom (Acrux). Now extend another line perpendicular to the Southern Pointers which is perpendicular to the line connecting them. The line from Crux intersects the line perpendicular to the pointers about 5 degrees NW of the south celestial pole.
As a double check, draw an imaginary line from Hadar in Centaurus to Achernar in the constellation Eridanus. The SCP lies just south of the halfway point between these two bright stars

Image

Image taken from unit 3 at urikaruus. Kielie is better as the units faces south so placing the camera can be done from your terrace. The only problem is there isn't any features that can be placed in the for ground (eg. a tree etc).

Image
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shane
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Re: International Space Station Viewing

Unread postby shane » Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:56 am

Some thing to try with the Kids in KTP:

Making your own celestrial clock (extract from oneminuteastronomer):

On or about March 29, the Southern Cross stands upright in the southern sky at midnight local time, approximately. Doesn’t matter where you live… Pretoria, Perth, or Palmerston North… at midnight, roughly, as long as you can see it, the Cross will point upright, as in the following image:

Image

Now the stars of Crux, like all stars, will appear to rotate around the south celestial pole during the night (and day). If you face south, Crux will rotate clockwise at half the rate of the hour-hand in a clock. In 24 hours, Crux comes all the way around to its original position. In 6 hours, Crux makes a quarter revolution, and in 3 hours, it makes of a revolution, and so on. So, as an example, on March 29 you look up and see Crux pointing to 1:30 on its celestial clock, you know it’s 3 a.m. refer to the image below:

Image

If it’s pointing to 3:00 on March 29, then it must be 6 a.m. And if it’s pointing to 11:00, then it must be 10 p.m.

You can use the same trick at other times of year, assuming you can see Crux from your location. But it’s a little more complicated because Crux will point to midnight at a time other than true midnight. That’s because the stars shift a little in position each night because of the Earth’s revolution around the Sun. In a month, the stars rise earlier by 2 hours. So Crux points directly upward to 12:00 at 10 p.m. on April 29, and 8 p.m. on May 29, and 2 a.m. on February 28 (or March 1), and so on.

Just remember, add 2 hours for each month after March 29, or subtract 2 hours for every month before March 29. That works out to one hour every two weeks.

That’s how to make your very own celestial clock. It’s not as accurate as your Timex or Rolex, but it’s far more fun. Try with your kids in KTP.
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Re: International Space Station Viewing

Unread postby Barrydalers » Sat Nov 24, 2012 6:00 am

This is exciting.
I will also be using Stellarium on my notebook to help.
I can now understand your explanation for finding the SCP, just put it into practice :)
The celestial clock looks like fun.
I think i'm going to run out of time in KTP :)
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Re: International Space Station Viewing

Unread postby Barrydalers » Sat Nov 24, 2012 6:24 am

I saw the ISS last night (23.11 @ 21:24) rising in the SW & coming right overhead.
Visible for 2 minutes, great to watch it again. Thank you.
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Re: Is there a space shuttle currently orbiting the earth ?

Unread postby Elsa » Wed May 14, 2014 1:59 pm

We saw the space station passing overhead last Friday just after sunset, amazing sight.
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