During last night (16.-17.8.2014) I was doing some satellite spotting in Turku, Finland. Below you can see a collection of the most interesting observations from last night. Nights are getting darker and darker also her up north. Last night last quarter of Moon was above horizon all night, but still NELM was about 5 and Milky way was visible weakly.
A bright Iridium -flare in the constellation of Hercules @ 21:42 UT. The flaring Iridium was iridium 21, and the brightness of the flare was about -8 magnitudes (picture 1).
After the bright Iridium -flare, I observed some other fainter, but still very interesting satellite targets. @ 22:25 there was quite intense traffic in the orbit (pictures 2-3), and I was able to catch three different satellites in one photo! I observed SL-16 R/B and FIA Radar 2 (USA 234) crossing their ways in the sky and also NOSS 2-3 (E) left it’s trail in the same photo.! Although there seems to be quite heavy traffic in the space, no collision happened this time because of the elevation difference of the orbits of the satellties 🙂
FIA Radar 2, aka USA 234 is an American radar imaging reconnaisance satellite of the new generation. The new generation of reconnaisance satellites is called Future Imagery Architechture, FIA. FIA Radar 2 was launched in April 2012 with launch code NROL-25. NOSS 2-3 (E) is a component of NOSS 2-3 (C-D-E) satellite triplet that has started drift apart since 2007. Now NOSS 2-3 (E) seems to be totally separated from it’s companion satellites. SL-16 R/B is a rocket body from a Soviet Zenit -rocket family.
If you look carefully the picture above (picture 4), you can see a faint satellite trail. This trail was caused by Lacrosse 5. Lacrosse 5, aka USA 182 is an American radar reconnaisance satellite launched in 2005. This satellite has a unique brightness behaviour. Observers have reported, that sometimes it has totally faded away from visibility. This has been called the “disappearance trick” of the satellite. These fadings seem to be unique for Lacrosse 5, it hasn’t been observed with other Lacrosse -satellites. Sometimes it has also been flaring brightly according to some reports. This time Lacrosse 5 was an object of about fifth magnitude, and it’s brightness was even during my observation.