Re: telescopic high res images USA-161 KH

From: Thierry Legault (
Date: Sun May 30 2010 - 16:06:15 UTC

  • Next message: Tim Luton: "TML obs of 2010 May 30 UTC"

    hello all
    I have extracted some images from the associated 
    gif video:
    If you put a video camera on a telescope and you 
    aim it at a star, the atmospheric turbulence will 
    give images that are (more or less) distorted and 
    spread in random figures (see the animations in 
    If you superimpose the unpredictable shaking 
    effect of the movement of the telescope during 
    manual tracking, you can transform a star into 
    any possible figure (a satellite silhouette, the 
    head of Dark Vador etc.), especially if you take 
    hundreds of images, if you select the ones that 
    fit your needs and if you enlarge them by a 
    factor 2 or 3 (perhaps more) with over-subtle 
    processing (and I do not talk about optical 
    defects such as miscollimation or color Bayer 
    matrix artefacts in the camera sensor) . You can 
    see from these individual images that very 
    different shapes are visible and that most of 
    them could as well correspond to a completely 
    different orientation of the satellite (and 
    consider that these images have not been taken 
    randomly in the video sequence but have been selected!).
    In addition, the orientation of the satellite in 
    the drawing is pure speculation: we have 
    absolutely no idea of the real orientation of the 
    satellite during the passage. In summary, we can 
    say that making a drawing of a satellite in an 
    arbitrary orientation and selecting in the video 
    sequence the images that recall this drawing (or 
    perhaps doing the reverse: selecting arbitrarily 
    distorted images and then making a drawing in 
    accordance), and finally suggesting that they 
    correspond…reminds me astrologers who justify 
    their theories with pure coincidences carefully 
    chosen! We must remain conscious that an image is 
    NOT reality, it can even be very far from it, 
    especially with an object that spans on only a 
    few pixels. I’m afraid that all we can say is 
    that the satellite has been photographed as a 
    bright point passing in the sky and that the rest 
    is total self-persuasion, including of course the 
    fact that the light could come from the opening 
    of the satellite and not from any other part of it.
    At 15:18 25/05/2010, Ralf Vandebergh wrote:
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 3:08 PM
    >Subject: telescopic high res images USA-161 KH
    >subject:telescopic high res images USA-161 KH
    >As most of you will know, the Keyhole satellites are discribed as
    >beeing space telescopes with similar disign as the Hubble, but only
    >with the instruments pointed at the Earth instead at space.
    >As mentioned before, this observation was part of several, managed to
    >obtain in steady air in the night of May 23. You may pic up the subject
    >'high res' images questionable, but please realize that we speak of
    >an object in an orbit catagory 600 km altitude, you will understand that
    >the visible resolution is less then the images I obtain on objects like the
    >Space Shuttle and the ISS in almost halfway its altitude. For this reason I
    >just was surprised to have captured not only clearly the body of this
    >spacecraft but also signs of solar wings and even some detail on the body.
    >At 00:06:18 UTC, there was a short flare which I managed to capture, as
    >presented in the short movie. Note that all images are tracked fully
    >manually, so the capture of such short flare needs great tracking-
    >performance. But the higher orbit, and so lower apparant speed helped
    >certainly in this.
    >It appears, after the flare, (the second image at 00:06:19) we see a
    >lot more of especially the solar panels, at least I hope I have identified
    >the structures well. Before the flare, the panels are only visible well
    >on one side of the body. Although the main flare was very short, the frames
    >suggest, the object still was a few seconds brighter after the flare and
    >provided a clearer view of the satellite.
    >Imaging: 10inch reflector, manually tracked)
    >Ralf Vandebergh
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