Satellite mystery solved!

Couple of days ago I wrote a post about mysterious satellite triplet, that I observed while trying to cathc a perseid meteors with my camera.

I posted a mail about this satellite to the Seesat -e-mail list, and with the help of Leo Barhorst, Cees Bassa and Björn Gimle I was able to identify this! This satellite was Yaogan 16, a Chinese spy satellite triplet, similar than American NOSS -triplets were. Apparently the use of these satellites is also similar.

Thanks for Leo Barhorst, Cees Bassa and Björn Gimle for identification help!

140812-13_unid_sat_1 140812-13_unid_sat_2




Mystery satellite triplet during Perseid night

I observed this mysterious satellite triplet in the night between 12th and 13th of August 2014 @ 21:26 UT in Turku, Finland, while trying to observe Perseid meteor shower. These satellites were moving upwards in the constellation of Aquila. First two of them were flaring and then fading, then the third one flared and faded away in similar way. When flaring, they were easily rivaling Vega!

So far my attempts to find out the identity of these satellites have not been successfull. I first suspected some NOSS satellite, but I couldn’t find any good match with Heavensat program. So this one remains as a mystery so far! If someone of you would have any idea about this satellite, I would be happy to hear!

Twinkle, twinkle, little Iridium satellite

…how I wonder what you are!

Iridium 66 flaring above Finland.
Iridium 66 flaring above Finland.

So, here it is, my first ever photograph of an Iridium satellite flare! I catched this last night 5.-6. of August 2014 @ 22:21 UT in Turku, Finland. The brightness of the flare was about -8 magnitudes according to Heavens Above site. And I’m not arguing with HA, so bright it was! The satellite that I catched flaring, was iridium 66. Spotting these satellite flares is an extremely exciting past-time activity! I’m so happy and excited about this observation, that I’m sure to try to catch these again also in the future!

Iridium satellites are a constellation of 66 communications satellite, and they have a special antennae -system that is causing these short, but bright flares. The Iridium -company originally failed with the business, but now they are back to business, this time operated by a different company, Iridium Satellite LLC. The satellites are mostly used by the US military for their communications purposes.