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Satellite Spotting

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Junior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:54 pm
Posts: 228
Location: Wrong Continent
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Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:21 pm Unread post
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/
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
Allan
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Re: Satellite Spotting

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Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:28 am
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Location: Pretoria, RSA
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Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:46 pm Unread post
Interesting site ... thanks Allan! :thumbs_up:


Re: Satellite Spotting

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Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:11 am
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Fri Feb 06, 2009 8:28 pm Unread post
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


Re: Satellite Spotting

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Junior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:54 pm
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Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:25 pm Unread post
Hi Pepperjuice,
It certainly looks like one.

I haven't tried star trail photos yet. If we get clear skies when we are out in SA in just over two weeks time I'll give it a go.

Love your photo by the way :thumbs_up:

Allan


Re: Satellite Spotting

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Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 1:43 pm
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Location: Jo'burg
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Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:13 am Unread post
pepperjuice wrote
Could this be a Satellite. Top right.
One of my first attempts at Star Trails.

In East Africa/Equator we spotted Satellites quite often.


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!


Is there a space shuttle currently orbiting the earth ?

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Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:45 pm
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Location: southern gauteng
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Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:19 pm Unread post
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 ?


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

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Senior Virtual Ranger
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Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:13 pm Unread post
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.


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

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Honorary Virtual Ranger
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 5:42 pm
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Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?
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Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:10 pm Unread post
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.


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

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Senior Virtual Ranger
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Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:03 am Unread post
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 (?) .


International Space Station Viewing

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Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:02 pm
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Location: Cape Town
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Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:01 pm Unread post
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.


Re: International Space Station Viewing

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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:06 pm
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Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:33 pm Unread post
Do you have any experience observing the sky with a telescope in KTP?
I will be in Mata Mata, Nossob and TR camps, and as I'm also an amateur astronomer I would like to bring a "travel telescope".
Is there a lot of lights, trees, risks ...?

Thanks
Pat


Re: International Space Station Viewing

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Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:17 pm
Posts: 104
Location: Lonehill, Sandton RSA
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Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:59 pm Unread post
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.
Dennis


Re: International Space Station Viewing

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Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:02 pm
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Location: Cape Town
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Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:29 am Unread post
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


Re: International Space Station Viewing

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Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:56 am Unread post
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.


Re: International Space Station Viewing

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Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:12 pm
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Location: Barrydale
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Sat Nov 24, 2012 6:00 am Unread post
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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