Violet Satellite Appearance

From: Chris Zietkiewicz (
Date: Tue Aug 10 2010 - 05:35:29 UTC

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    On Sunday evening I observed a violet appearing satellite.  A portion of the
    track was captured with a DSLR and can be seen here.  
    I also observed this object through binoculars and verified the violet
    appearance; this was not a digital camera color mapping error.  Note that
    the color saturation is stronger in the image than seen by direct
    observation most likely due to a “VIVID” camera optimization setting.  I
    have not been able to identify this satellite; perhaps others have seen this
    colored satellite before and can make a rapid identification.
    The violet appearing satellite was captured on August 8, 2010 in North
    Central Colorado near Estes Park (Lat.=N40.27941 Long.=W105.35824
    Elev.=2073m).  I did not see the initial portion of the track so I cannot
    provide a maximum elevation and bearing.  I am in the process of matching
    the star field but do not have any results to share at this time.  What I do
    know accurately is the starting time for the photographed track.  The
    shutter opened at 2314.03 +/- 5 seconds local time (MDT = GMT-0600) by a GPS
    disciplined clock.  The satellite continued out of the frame before the 30
    sec shutter time elapsed but I expect that it would end at a N or NNE
    bearing.  The approx. camera direction was 330 degrees (i.e. NNW) with an
    elevation angle between 20 and 40 degrees.  Captured with a Nikon D70, 35mm
    1:2 lens, 30 sec exposure, and long exp NR=OFF (bat low).
    I could not find any discussion of violet satellites on the site.
     Can anyone explain the unusual color?  I recall a recent discussion about
    red satellites so I hope this observation is not too far off topic.  Thank
    you in advance for any thoughts anyone has to share.
    Chris Zietkiewicz
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