Wednesday, December 12, 2012

North Korean satellite/NORAD 39026/KWANGMYSONG 3 first photos taken over Texas

Photographed as it passed just west of Amarillo, Texas tonight. Satellite tracking via

Yeah, I know it isn't much to look at - but it is proof that it is in stable LEO. Next task is to try and find out if it is transmitting. Time to break out the satellite antenna and the spectrum analyzer and listen for it on the next few passes.

This was a "dim" pass - but I spotted it with my night vision lens then set up the camera in it's path. Exposure was 2.5 seconds at 240mm, ISO 1600. I really had to pull up the brightness and contrast in Photoshop to bring it out of "the muck." I also saw lots of meteorites during my search but they looked nothing like this dim dirty snowball. This moved much slower than a meteor. I tracked the satellite on my laptop, which was quite accurate - just about half a minute off - but that could have been due to internet lag time.

Note the time of exposure differs from the orbital data by one hour because I have not reset my camera once we went off daylight savings time.

 I think the little curve on the left of the trail is either shutter bump or accidental movement of the tripod moving just a hair during exposure.

 RAW IMAGE on request by qualified MEDIA.

That bright point of light is a star (don't know which) that became my focus point. I'm guessing it was only illuminated by earthshine. - Steve Douglass

Click to enlarge. 


PHOTO (C) Steve Douglass

Photo (C) Steve Douglass RAW image available on request.

UPDATE: A satellite that North Korea launched on a long-range rocket is orbiting normally, South Korean officials say, following a defiant liftoff that drew a wave of international condemnation.
Washington and its allies are pushing for punishment over the launch, which they say is a test of banned ballistic missile technology.
The launch of a three-stage rocket similar in design to a model capable of carrying a nuclear-tipped warhead as far as California raises the stakes in the international standoff over North Korea's expanding atomic arsenal. As Pyongyang refines its technology, its next step may be conducting its third nuclear test, experts warn.
The UN security council, which has punished North Korea repeatedly for developing its nuclear programme, condemned Wednesday's launch and said it would urgently consider "an appropriate response". The White House called the launch a "highly provocative act that threatens regional security", and even the North's most important ally, China, expressed regret.
In Pyongyang, however, pride over the scientific advancement outweighed the fear of greater international isolation and punishment. North Koreans clinked beer mugs and danced in the streets to celebrate.
"It's really good news," Jon Il-gwang told the Associated Press as he and scores of other Pyongyang residents poured into the streets after a noon announcement to celebrate the launch by dancing in the snow. "It clearly testifies that our country has the capability to enter into space."
South Korea's defence ministry said on Thursday that the satellite was orbiting normally at a speed of 4.7 miles (7.6km) per second, though it is not known what mission it is performing. North Korean space officials said the satellite would be used to study crops and weather patterns.
The defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said it usually took about two weeks to determine whether a satellite worked successfully after liftoff. He cited data from the North American Aerospace Defence Command.
Wednesday's launch was North Korea's fifth attempt since 1998. An April launch failed in the first of three stages, raising doubts among outside observers whether North Korea could fix what was wrong in eight months, but those doubts were erased on Wednesday.
The Unha rocket, Korean for "galaxy", blasted off from a launchpad north-west of Pyongyang just three days after North Korea indicated that technical problems might delay the launch.
South Korean navy ships found what appeared to be debris from the first stage rocket in the Yellow Sea and were trying to retrieve them on Thursday, defence officials said. The debris is believed to be a fuel container of the first stage rocket.
The officials said South Korea had no plans to return it to North Korea because the launch violated UN council resolutions.
The North American Aerospace Defence Command confirmed that "initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit".
The launch could leave Pyongyang even more isolated and cut off from much-needed aid and trade.

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