Artificial Satellites

Artificial Satellites are easy to see with the naked-eye especially after dusk and before dawn. The brightest ones are as bright or even brighter than the brightest stars. Some images of satellites:


International Space Station - 10 years in orbit

iss and atv

The first component (the Russian Zarya module) of the International Space Station (ISS) was launched in late 1998. Since then numerous bits have been added.

The photo (detail) shows the ISS and the European ATV ("Jules Verne") cargo module flying in formation on 1st April 2008 at 20.34 UT. DSLR camera lens set 27mm focal length, ISO 200.

Space Shuttle Discovery in 1991

Discovery; click image for higher resolution

The Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS 48 mission on 14th Sep 1991 at 20.04 UT. Image taken witha 28mm camera lens using Ektachrome 100 slide film. I estimated the magnitude as -1.

Iridium Flares in 2003 and 2012

Iridium; click image for higher resolution Iridium; click image for higher resolution

Apart from the flares, these satellites are quite faint to observe.

Left: A magnitude -6 flare from the Iridium 47 satellite. Jupiter (magnitude -2.5) is towards the bottom, while the twins Castor and Pollux in Gemini are just above the flare in cloud. Magnitude -6 is brighter than any of the planets can get. A 50mm camera focal-length lens. 2003 February 27 at 19.49 UT.

Right: Very bright (mag -8) flare from Iridium 97 through cloud. 2012 February 20 at 10.03 UT. Some proper names of the field stars are given, can you recognise the constellation?
24mm camera lens. 10 sec exposure. ISO 800.

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