Marco Langbroek to receive Dr. J. van der Bilt prize

From: Ted Molczan (ssl3molcz@rogers.com)
Date: Mon Sep 17 2012 - 17:18:29 UTC

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    It is my pleasure to inform the list that the Royal Dutch Association for Astronomy and Meteorology (KNVWS) has awarded
    the 2012 Dr. J. van der Bilt Prize to Dr. Marco Langbroek. 
    
    The prize was established in 1944 to honour amateurs who either contributed significantly to the popularization of
    astronomy, or as an amateur contributed to astronomy on a professional level.
    
    Marco is a professional stone age archaeologist, who pursues astronomy as a hobby. He is a long-time observer of meteors
    and hunter of asteroids, who more recently became involved in satellite observation. Since we know him best for the
    latter, I want to highlight some of his accomplishments.
    
    Marco joined SeeSat-L in 2003, having found it helpful in distinguishing between reports of meteoritic fireballs and
    re-entries of objects from Earth orbit. Before long, he became active as a positional observer, employing a digital
    still camera of high quality. Recording accurate time is always a challenge, but careful (sometimes fanatical!)
    attention to calibration enabled him to obtain excellent results. For objects too faint to photograph, he uses a small
    telescope and a stopwatch. Marco has made more than 4,600 observations during nearly 500 sessions, including objects in
    LEO, Molniya and GEO orbit. He can always be counted on to contribute to special observing campaigns, as well as routine
    catalogue maintenance, greatly benefiting the group.
    
    Marco was among the first to report Lacrosse 5's mysterious "disappearance trick", which he went on to document by
    capturing it in the act. The exact cause is uncertain, but it is one of several visible clues that Lacrosse 5 differs
    significantly from its predecessors.
    
    One of the more mysterious objects that we track is 99028C / 25746), which is suspected of being a decoy for Misty 2.
    The object has been in a slow roll since it was first observed in 1999, but its rate of rotation has gradually increased
    ever since, apparently due to solar radiation pressure. Accurately timing the period of rotation using purely visual
    methods has always been difficult due to the combination of faint minima and long period, so Marco extracted brightness
    curves from the satellite's trailed photographic images:
    
    http://sattrackcam.blogspot.ca/2010/09/again-usa-144-misty-2-decoy-brightness.html
    
    Marco has applied the same technique to several other rotating satellites, and also to the aforementioned Lacrosse 5
    disappearances.
    
    Whether observing, analyzing or communicating his results through his blog, Marco has made a great contribution to
    visual satellite observation and to public knowledge, very much in keeping with the recognition bestowed upon him by the
    KNVWS. Congratulations, Marco!
    
    Ted Molczan
    
    
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