RE: Leonid meteor passing in front of a satellite

From: Matson, Robert (
Date: Mon Dec 31 2001 - 15:13:11 EST

  • Next message: Matson, Robert: "Satellite identified in FISTA Leonid movie!"

    Hi Tom and List,
    > I was watching a Leonid meteor flash by in a movie available at the URL
    > below when I noticed what appears to be a satellite slowing moving along
    > in the middle portion of the picture.  The meteor slashes right across
    > the satellite. Neat!
    > See:
    I thought this would be a fun exercise to determine the satellite in this
    movie.  Alas, I remain stumped due to a lack of information.  They don't
    indicate the field of view or sensitivity of the camera, so matching up
    the starfield is next to impossible.  They don't indicate the time
    standard, but I've determined that it was probably UTC+9 hours (Okinawa
    local time).  The platform location is not specifically given, but the
    FISTA aircraft was supposedly in the vicinity of Okinawa, so I've used
    those coordinates with a 30,000' altitude.
    The three most useful bits of information are the date and time-tag in
    the image, the direction of the Leonid and the direction and speed of
    the satellite.  The satellite is moving almost, but not quite toward
    the radiant.  If you assume the satellite is in a polar orbit (playing
    the odds), then it is either moving south toward Leo, or north toward
    Leo.  From this, you can at least begin to constrain the starfield
    search.  Using SkyMap with an old Allan Thompson archive elset from
    11/18/1998, I searched for all satellites heading approximately toward
    the Leonid radiant at 4:43:35 (UTC+9).  These are the only candidates
    brighter than magnitude 6.5:
    southbound:  Iridium 83 (m5.8)
    northbound:  Cosmos 203 R/B (m6.0)
    eastbound:  DFS 3 R/B  (m6.0)
    Unfortunately, I can't get the starfields to match up with the video
    for any of these satellites.
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