Satellite Star Trails

January 26, 2009


Provided and copyright by: William Livingston, National Solar Observatory
Summary Author: William Livingston

The image above show time-lapse "trails" made by geostationary satellites as revealed on an 8-hour exposure (March 8, 2008), with a fixed camera pointed at the celestial equator, from Kitt Peak in Arizona. Click on image for a larger view. Some star trails are also visible and include Orion, its belt stars and its Great Nebula (in purple). Approximately 240 geostationary satellites are in orbit over the Earth's equator -- some were launched decades ago. Identifications of satellites are from "Classification of Geosynchronous Objects" by R. Choc and R. Jehn, published in February 2008.

Photo details: Hasselblad Camera; 80 mm lens; f/6.3; Ektachrome 100 film.