Telescopic View of Geostationary Satellite
October 23, 2011
Photographer: Saeid Aghaei; Saeid's Photostream
Summary Author: Saeid Aghaei; Jim Foster
The photo above shows the Russian geostationary communications satellite Yamal 202, the creamy object at upper left, as observed from Kabul, Afghanistan on the night of August 17, 2011. Yamal 202 orbits the Earth at an altitude of approximately 22,244 mi (35,798 km). Since the orbit of a geostationary satellite is circular and its angular velocity is the same as the Earth's, it appears fixed in sky. Other celestial objects (the Moon, planets, stars), however, are seen to change position in the course of a few hours. The green trail at top is the track of a 7th magnitude star in the constellation of Aquarius. Other star trails are identified on the lower photo. Yamal 202 has a magnitude of approximately 10, far too dim to be seen with the unaided eye. In fact, none of the stars on this scene are sufficiently bright to be detected without the aid of a telescope or binoculars. Scene brightness here is somewhat diminished because the Moon was 91 percent illuminated (waning gibbous Moon). Note that on the bottom photo, “TYC” denotes the name of a star in the Tycho Star Catalogue, “HIP” is a star name in the Hipparcos Star Catalogue and USNO is the USNO Integrated Image and Catalog Archive Service.
Photo details: Celestron CGEM 11 in Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope; 2800mm focal length; f/6.3; EOS Canon 50D camera; exposure time of 110 seconds; ISO 400; time of photo 01:42:40 (+04:00 GMT); angular separation of Moon and "Yamal 202" was 28.5 degrees.