Geostationary Satellites


Geostationary satellites may seen with a moderate sized telescope if one knows where to look. From the southern part of the UK, they appear in an arc across the sky at a declination of around 7.5 degrees south of the equator. Here are two recent images I have taken using my Canon 40D DSLR attached to a Borg 101-ED. Exposure times are 30 seconds each with the drive switched off. Orbital elements for geostationary satellites (and LEOs as well) are available from Celestrak. I use the old (DOS!), but effective, Highfly software by Mike McCants to generate the predictions. Highfly is available from http://www.io.com/~mmccants/programs/highfl23.zip.

2009 February 21 22:43 hrs, the cluster around 1 west.

2009 February 21 22:49 hrs, slightly further west at 9 west.

 

Back in 2000, the biggest 'constellation' was probably the Astra (analogue) direct broadcast television satellites at 19.2 degrees east.

Astra 2001 Mar 30
This image shows how they appeared at 22:00hrs on 2000 January 21. It was taken with a 30 second integration using my Cookbook CB245 CCD camera attached to a Meade 10 inch LX200 telescope with f/6.3 focal reducer. The telescope drive was switched off, so the stars show as trails, whilst the satellites remain stationary. On 2001 March 30, this time using a Starlight Express MX916 CCD camera and the Meade.
A short distance away is the 'Hotbird' constellation at 13 degrees east.
Hotbird 2001 Mar 30
2000 January 21 2001 March 30

Graham Boots of Worthing Astronomical Society has taken some photographs of geostationary satellites using a 35mm camera. One of his images may be seen here.
Paolo Cosetti's Satbuster computer program can be found at www.satbuster.com/
John Locker has taken lots of images of satellites that may be found at http://www.satcom.freeserve.co.uk/
Ross Lockley maintains "A web site dedicated to free tv transmissions visible across Europe on old analogue satellite receivers" at http://www.selkirkshire.demon.co.uk/analoguesat/

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