Almost fooled by UARS while looking for ISS

From: Marco Langbroek (
Date: Wed Nov 29 2006 - 11:10:53 EST

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    Hi all,
    At the end of another fine pre-dawn session I was waiting for a pass of the ISS. 
    While preparing the camera I realised I had used elements from before last 
    nights orbit boost for ISS, so I reckoned it might perhaps appear somewhat off-time.
    At 5:42 UTC, 1 minute early, I saw a bright object appear in Gemini close to but 
    slightly south of the point where ISS should emerge from earth shadow. It 
    initially was about mag. +0.5 in brightness. "Ah, there it is!" I thought and 
    triggered the camera...
    image here:
    As the camera ended its exposure, I realized something was wrong.
    My brain registered disappointment about the brightness of this "ISS", wondered 
    about a 1 minute early appearance (a bit too much??), and as I watched the 
    object I  realized its course was bringing it much too much north to be, this was an imposter!
    So I quickly swapped back the camera. And yes, there it appeared,low west, 
    almost at te moment I turned my sight to it: the *real* ISS, close to Castor and 
    Pollux, at a splendid bright mag. -3...!
    Image here:
    The "imposter" was later identified as te Upper atmospheric research satellite 
    UARS (91-063B, #21701). The darn thing almost fooled me...!  :-p
    Like from my images of last Friday, I constructed a mozaik of two ISS trail 
    images from this morning again:
    Apart from ISS and UARS, I also imaged Lacrosses 2 & 3 this morning, and a 
    second stray (on one of the Lacrosse 2 images) which turned out to be 70-037B 
    (#04394), a Russian rocket stage from the Meteor 1-4 lauch.
    Positions will follow later, I still have to measure most images.
    - Marco   :-)
    Dr Marco Langbroek  -  SatTrackCam Leiden, Cospar 4353
    Leiden, the Netherlands. 52.15412 N,  4.49081 E (WGS84), +0 m ASL
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