Subject: SkySensor 200 Tracks Mir Again
From: email@example.com (Paul Laughton)
Once again, the SkySenor 2000 did a great job of tracking Mir.
Mir was scheduled to make a very high pass over the San Francisco Bay area this evening (10/21). The latest Mir TLEs were obtained and entered into the SkySensor 2000 via the key pad.
Yesteraday eveing, I set the date forward 24 hours to find out what path Mire would take over the area. The SS2000 tracked NNE to SW.
This evening I set up the Super Polaris with the polar axis facing NNE and did a three star alignment. The EP I selected for viewing Mir this time was a 14 mm Pentax. The OTA was an AP Traveler. While waiting for Mir, I selected the Messier sky tour. Each object appeared well towards the center of the FOV. While viewing M56, the Satellite Alarm went off alerting me that Mir was over the horizon.
Mir was selected from the Satellite menu and the GOTO key pressed. The mount slewed around to the NNE and started to track. At about 10 degress altitude, I looked in the EP. There was a small, star like object at about 1/3 of the field from center. It was staying fairly stationary although the scope was moving. Must be Mir.
As I countinued to watch, hitting a motor key now and then, Mir started to look Saturn like. That is, a bright spot with what looked like small smears of rings. The spot and smears evolved into a more cylindrical looking thing with rectangular arms. Mir continued to climb up over the area reaching an alititude of about 80 degrees as it crossed the meridian. It continued over to somewhat to the south of Saturn. At about Saturn's altitude, it winked out and disappeared.
I got quite dizzy while observing Mir. The combination of Mir sitting more or less still in the EP while the stars zoomed by and the motion of my head needed to keep my eye on the EP was very disorienting. I guess I would not make a good fighter jock. <grin>
I was very pleased to be able actually see some shape to Mir on this viewing pass. My confidence in the SkySensor's ability to track Mir is growing. Next time, Thrusday 10/23, I will be using the 9mm Nagler.
Astronomy home page: http://www.laughton.com/paul/rfo/rfo.html
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