UnID geosynchronous sat

DJLaszlo (DJLaszlo@aol.com)
Sat, 20 Dec 1997 23:19:16 EST

Can anyone help ID this bird?  Cheers, Dan Laszlo

Subj:  Geosynchronous Sat. Imaged
Date:  12/20/97 2:21:36 PM
From:  TchPhysics@aol.com      

During the evening of 18 December, I was imaging the Flame Nebula from my home
in Maine.  Using a 16" Newtonian and a CB245 CCD camera, I was taking a series
of 10-second images of the nebula.  

At the end of the observing run, I was looking through the images and noticed
a short trail on three successive images.  I have found a trail across an
image before, but usually a satellite will trail across only one image since
they are moving relatively fast compared to the small field of view of the
camera.

I've calculated that this object was moving across the sky at the slow speed
of 12.75 arcminutes per minute.  At this rate, it would take the object more
than four full minutes to move across the angular diameter of the face of the
Moon.

This slow relative speed indicates that what I imaged is a geosynchronous
satellite, slowly wandering near the celestial equator.  The Flame Nebula is
right next to the leftmost star in Orion's Belt (Alnitak) and so is at
approximately -2 deg declination.  Apparently, this satellite wanders north
and south in this region.

You can see the image of the satellite crossing the Flame at my web site:

http://members.aol.com/tchphysics/index.htm

Just click on the thumbnail image of the Flame Nebula and it will show you
both my final "stacked" image of the nebula and also the composite of the
three satellite images.

If anyone can identify the object that I imaged, please let me know.  The
image was taken from Maine at appoximately 2030 EST, 18 Dec.

Jeff MacQuarrie