Entries tagged as Iridium

Last look of Tiangong-1 with Iridium 80

Tiangong-1 (top left) and Iridium 80 (center) seen in the northern sky

Tiangong-1, the first Chinese space station, is set to fall back to Earth around April 2. Its orbit had been slowly decaying since its service was ended in 2016. I found out that it would be visible for one last time in the sky this morning, so me and my daughter Celine decided to witness its streak. I set up my iPhone X on a tripod and placed it on the window facing north. Then I launched NightCap Camera app in satellite capturing mode.

Shortly after 5:30AM, Tiangong-1 made its bright (-0.6 magnitude, 181km altitude) appearance from the west, streaking towards east and quickly dimming. Just as it disappeared from our eyesight, another bright flash appeared to the east of Polaris and then quickly disappeared. From my experience I knew that was an Iridium flare. CalSky website verified it to be Iridium 80, showing up at 5:30:36AM with a magnitude of -2.0. We were very lucky to see the two together - since the space station will disappear in a couple of days it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

On the photo, you can see, starting from the top left and looking towards bottom right, the Tiangong-1, Polaris, Iridium 80, and the Cassiopeia constellation. Click on the image to see it in full size.

Device: iPhone X
Settings: 28mm - ISO 2112 - 61s - f/1.8
Filters: None
Date/Time: 2018-03-31 05:30:01 KST
Location: Naju, Korea

The streak of Iridium 60's flare

Iridium 60 in the northern sky on August 30, 2016 (14% size)

It's been more than two years since I talked about satellite flares here, but I now have something to show you. As you can see, I had a camera successfully capture the flares coming from an Iridium satellite for the first time. Past efforts used iPhones because I was focused in capturing the motion of the flares. In this photo, the ever-growing Naju Bitgaram City provided a colourful backdrop.

Device: Sony A5000 + SELP1650 (E PZ 16โ€“50 mm F3.5โ€“5.6 OSS)
Settings: 24mm - ISO 400 - 20s - f/4.5
Filters: None
Time: 2016-08-30 05:06 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
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Iridium 12 satellite flare

Iridium 12 streaks down just below Polaris

Last Thursday, Iridium 12 was making a bright, magnitude -6.1 flare in the northern sky just below Polaris, so I took its photos with my iPhone. To eliminate the camera shake in the images, I used Hugin for the first time. It seems to do an excellent job of it.


Device: iPhone 5S
Settings: 30mm - ISO 2000 - 1/15s - f/2.2
Filters: None
Time: 2014-04-03 19:58 KST
Location: Suwon, Korea
240 photos stabilized with Hugin 2013.0.0 and combined with Startrails 2.3
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Iridium 20 satellite flare


This is a recording of the flare from Iridium 20 satellite over at Yatap subway station in Seongnam.

Device: iPhone 5S
Settings: 30mm - ISO 1250 - 1/15s - f/2.2
Filters: None
Time: 2014-01-28 19:25 KST
Location: Seongnam, Korea
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Iridium 42 satellite flare


The Iridium 42 featured in today's "The Toon-Box" was a frame from the series of burst shots I made with iPhone 5S. You can see the video of these shots as this YouTube video.

Device: iPhone 5S
Settings: 30mm - ISO 320 - 1/15s - f/2.2
Filters: None
Time: 2014-01-09 17:55 KST
Location: Seoul, Korea
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