Satellite Images

 Iridium 70 (flare)
USSPACECOM Catalog No.: 25342
International Designation Code: 1998-032-A

Satellite Details
Orbit: 776 x 779 km, 86.4°
Intrinsic brightness (Mag):
6.0 (at 1000km distance, 50% illuminated)
Maximum brightness (Mag):
4.9 (at perigee, 100% illuminated)

Launch Date (UTC): 21:16, May 17, 1998
Launch site: Vandenberg SLC2W, California, USA
Launch vehicle: Delta 7920-10C


The image was capture by an SBIG Allsky camera on 02-09-2006. For a larger version click on the image above. For more info about the AllSky camera click here
NORAD No: 23639
Communication Satellite
Launched 1995
Status: Inactive

Location when photographed: **
51 West Long.  0 Lat.
RA: 18 39 47.372
Dec: -09 01 27.53
Altitude: 35978.438 km
Inclination: 6.3057

Imaged Date: 07-14-2006
Imaged Time: 02:17:08.765 GMT

Exposure: 5 minutes
Camera: SBIG ST-2000XM
OTA: Meade 10" LX200GPS
Mount: Paramount ME
Telescope Tracking Rate
RA:  14.8533
Dec: 1.68120

 The image on the left shows the satellite as a spec of light. It had been on the other side of the world at 116 East Long when in operation. It was deactivated in 2000. Since the fuel has been depleted no Station Keeping is being done on the satellite and it has been drifting around  the world from east to west  at a rate of about 2.181 degrees per day. The drift follows a saw tooth pattern ** taking the spacecraft above and below the equator by 6.36 degrees every 24 hours. It sits in inclined orbit at an altitude of approx 35,000 km.

This particular satellite was is an old RCA Series 3000 (now Lockheed Martin) that was launched in 1995 aboard a Delta 2 rocket. One of the rocket’s booster motors failed to separate during the launch hindering the vehicle’s performance. This caused the satellite to be placed in a orbit about 3000 miles lower than expected.  The satellite was successfully raised to a geostationary orbit using it’s on board thrusters, but that lowered its operational life from 15 years to only 4.5 years.

Although you can see the star trails in the background the satellite is actually moving very slowly. The image is a 5 minute unguided image.

Koreasat-1 was one of the birds I worked on so it was a bit special for me to be able capture an image of it in orbit.

Here an image of an RCA Series 3000 satellite being launched from the shuttle can be seen at Wikipedia.

Imaged Date: 11-17-2006
Imaged Time: 16:42:00 GMT

Exposure: 20 seconds
Camera: SBIG All Sky Cam

Click on the image  for a larger view. A close examination will reveal 2 streaks on the left side. Those streaks are 2 satellites in the same orbit.  Click here to see a 4 frame 375 KB animated GIF of the satellites moving from South to East. The streak in the center moving from East to West is an aircraft (notice the evenly spaced dots in the streak? They are the strobe lights). These satellites would have been visible to the naked eye and would have remained visible for about 45 seconds.

GPS Block 2A #26
PRN10 /SVN40
NORAD No: 23953U
Navigation Satellite (USAF)
Launched: 7/16/96 at 00:50 GMT
Status: Operational

Location when photographed:
49 West Long. 41 North Lat. (moving East)
RA: 05 59 07.076
Dec: +18.6423
Altitude: 20184.55
Range: 23615 km
Inclination: 6.3057

Imaged Date: 12-02-2006
Imaged Time: 01:56:36 GMT
Exposure: 3 minutes (unguided)
Camera: SBIG ST-2000XM
Telescope: Stellarvue 102APO
Mount: Paramount ME
Tracking Rate:
RA  =  38.3901  arcseconds/sec
Dec = -21.3580  arcseconds/sec

Click on image to enlarge.
The white dot in the  image above is of the GPS Block 2A number 26 (PRN10).  The satellite was launched from Pad 17A on Cape Canaveral Air Station  July 16 1996. This is one of the 30 (currently) satellites that make up the GPS constellation. The image was taken during partly cloudy conditions hence the white haze on the left side of the image.  No post processing was done to the image other than an auto-dark frame.

Satellite  name: TDRS 4

Info when imaged:
Equatorial: RA: 09h 21m 32s Dec: +03°05'14"
Equatorial 2000: RA: 09h 21m 10s Dec: +03°07'05"
Horizon: Azim: 133°33'07" Alt: +42°56'04"
Phase (%): 0.00
Hour angle: -02h 09m 23s
RA rate (arcsecs/sec): 15.2027
Dec rate (arcsecs/sec): 0.6172

Satellite name: TDRS 4 (#19883U)
Satellite TLE:  19883U 89021B 07064.95187397 -.00000276 00000-0 10000-3 0 907
Latitude: 08°19'55"
Longitude: 46°18'13"
Earth altitude: 35799.6792
Range: 37572.0755
Range rate: -0.0084
Depth of eclipse: 14709.7544
Angular separation: 00°00'03"


The image was taken as the satellite passed through the upper section of the of the constellation Sextans

Imaged Date: 3/6/2007
Imaged Time: 01:15:00 GMT
Exposure: 60 Seconds (unguided)
Camera: SBIG ST-2000XM
Telescope: Stellervue 102APO
Mount: Paramount ME

See where the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite TDRS-4 is now.
Launched 03-13-1989-03
Used for Tracking and communications with space shuttle, other missions

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*Still images and or composite animation are copyright protected and property of the JAT Observatory. They may not be used or reproduced in any manner without permission.
**Satellite Mercator map projections were generated using AGI's STK 7

Updated 02/09/2009 - Please report broken links