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Contains:  Horsehead nebula, IC 434
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Satellites Passing By the Horsehead Nebula, 


            Corey Rueckheim
Satellites Passing By the Horsehead Nebula
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Satellites Passing By the Horsehead Nebula

Technical card

Dates:Nov. 23, 2019

Frames: 4x40" bin 0x0

Integration: 0.0 hours

Avg. Moon age: 26.10 days

Avg. Moon phase: 12.77%

Basic astrometry details job: 3104093

RA center: 5h 40' 45"

DEC center: -2° 26' 24"

Pixel scale: 0.372 arcsec/pixel

Orientation: 359.926 degrees

Field radius: 0.255 degrees

Resolution: 4046x2811

Locations: Lafayette Home, Sparta, WI, United States

Data source: Backyard


This is a stack of four images with satellite (or space debris) trails across the Horsehead Nebula. There is an obvious bright one that cut across the top of one exposure, and a fainter one that cut across the bottom of three exposures. These are 40-second exposures, so the faint object must have been travelling very slowly, probably close to geostationary orbit. The Horeshead Nebula is near the celestial equator, which is where the geostationary satellites are positioned, adding support to this theory. The faint object can also be seen flashing in the image. The middle of the three exposures that showed that object had it visible for the entire exposure, and I count 35 distinct flashes. That's approximately 52.5 flashes per minute. I wonder what that object was..

With further research, I may have identified the bright object as the Centaur upper stage of the Atlas 5 rocket that launched the Intelsat 14 geostationary communication satellite. It launched from Cape Canaveral at 6:44 UTC on November 23, 2009. How's this for a coincidence: my exposure containing the rocket was taken at 09:12 UTC on November 23, 2019, which is less than 3 hours after it's ten-year launch anniversary!



Corey Rueckheim
License: None (All rights reserved)

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Satellites Passing By the Horsehead Nebula, 


            Corey Rueckheim

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Central USA