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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

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