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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Observing a communication satellite

Have you ever observed a communication satellite? Read this!

Image 1: An Iridium Flare

{The Iridium satellite constellation is a large group of satellites providing voice and data coverage to satellite phones, pagers and integrated transceivers over Earth's entire surface. Iridium Communications Inc. owns and operates the constellation and sells equipment and access to its services.} [1]

Iridium Flares can be observed without any visual aid. You must be simply in the right place at the right time to observe it. An Iridium Flare can be also easily captured by using simple amateur equipment. The photo above has be taken from a location near Stuttgart, Germany.

Learn how to capture it:

Consult the site http://www.heavens-above.com to find out when an Iridium flare is visible from your site. You need good weather, a very precise clock, a photo tripod (a german telescope mount may be better) and a DSLR camera. You may need six 30s exposures at ISO200 and 28mm focal length. In many cases you will not see anything in the sky, and you may think, you missed the flare. Do not delete your photos! Go home and inspect them on your computer. In most cases, the flare will be in one of your photos!
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 References:
[1] Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iridium_satellite_constellation

Monday, October 22, 2012

Jupiter on Oct. 21th 2012 (22:51MEST)

Despite the bad seeing of the last nights, I decided to make some tests on Jupiter, with 5 meters focal length and f/38.4 using my TIS  DBK21 color webcam on a Televue Powermate 5x. The best focal ratio to match this camera is f/28, i.e. 4 meters focal length for 130mm aperture. Hence, I have to use a Televue Powermate 4x instead to get best results. However, the biggest issue here is ... the weather (not the focal ratio).
 Image 1: Luckily, the great Red Spot was visible during the observation

 Image 2: The great Red Spot was easily visible was observable through the scope
  Image 3: The seeing was very bad during that night

 Image 4: Anyway, a low quality photo is better than no photo at all ;-)