Nanosail high-res OBS_ April 24

From: Ralf Vandebergh (
Date: Thu Apr 28 2011 - 16:15:28 UTC

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    Subject: Nanosail-D2  high-res OBS  April 24
          I have been hunting for Nanosail since several months and it turned out to be one of my most difficult targets ever. I have captured many satellites in high resolution but none of them were so hard to get as Nanosail. This satellite behaves very strange; Aside from bad luck with clouds occuring during sessions, Nanosail's magnitude almost never matched with the predictions, and in February and March it appeared to be unstable, like it was slowly tumbling; it was visible for some seconds, then dissapeared without diving into the Earth shade. Almost impossible to hold into the crosshairs. The changing behaviour could be relatively easily explained by the thin foil shape of this satellite; it depends on how we see it; edge or surface. When it appeared in my trackingscope on April 24, during the start of a new series of passes, I couldn't believe that it appeared finally stable and brightness as predicted, around mag 3.2. When I tried on a next favorable attempt the next d!
     ay (it would pass up to 85 degrees) it was invisible again. Possible while this time I looked at the edge, while the 50 degrees pass, captured in the image, showed the surface seen from a certain angle. The high resolution image confirmes that. I think the image could be used to get an impression of the attitude of Nanosail. Imaging: 10 inch Newtonian, manually tracked, JVC GR-DX27E, projection method with 15mm eyepiece. 
    Ralf Vandebergh
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