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Post by Paulie pchris00 on May 29, 2014 22:19:46 GMT -6
Sometimes you plan to see four planets and a sliver Moon, only to see just three planets, and no Moon. Throw in lousy seeing conditions, and it shapes up to be a lackluster night. Then, when playing around with colored filters while observing Mars, you look up and notice something bright below it. Too bright to be a star; doesn't look like an aircraft.
That was my night tonight. Observing with my Dobsonian, it was pretty easy to target what I assumed was a bright satellite low in the south, heading SSE. In the eyepiece, I could tell it was fairly large, but didn't look like any other time I've seen International Space Station. It was almost definitely a satellite, but I didn't think it could be anything but Station. I checked Heavens-above on my phone, and found that ISS was traveling northeast over the South Pacific at the time. What else could it be? Curious, I checked to see if the Chinese satellite and former space station Tiangong-1 had any passes tonight. Heavens-above's estimated maximum brightness of Tiangong-1 at 2.4 magnitude, while I estimate that I first saw it between 0 to -1, but the timing and orbital path fit what I saw. A Chinese space station. It's been unoccupied for almost a year now, but it was still a pretty cool thing to see.