Vanguard 1

From: Richard Alan Keen (
Date: Thu Jan 03 2013 - 17:58:03 UTC

  • Next message: Jon Mikel: "Satobs 03/01/2012"

    Some years ago - in 1998, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Vanguard 1, the most ancient "orbiting antique", I went on an observing binge.  The results are posted at:
    Here's part of that post...
    With the 40th anniversary of the launch of Vanguard 1 approaching,
    here's a list of my observations of Vanguard objects as a guide for you
    space archaeologists who wish to find these "orbiting antiques". 
    Here's the Quicksat output for these objects (I used a Quicksat
    standard magnitude of 10.3 for Vanguard 1), along with my observed
     UT Date   H M Al AziC  Mag   R A  Dec  Name    Obs. Mag.
     95/10/20 0121 43 185C  8.4  19:57-6.8  Vang1Rk 10
     95/10/20 0204 64 197C 13.2  20:2514.6  Vang1   11-14
     95/12/27 0255 50 155C 13.2  3:17 +2.1  Vang1   fl 12
     96/1/12  0232 73 190C 13.5  2:41 22.5  Vang1   fl 10
     96/1/15  0349 54 208C 13.6  3:19  6.6  Vang1   fl 11
     96/1/15  0354 50 244  10.2  2:01 16.1  Vang3   10
     96/4/6   0326 74 189C 13.7  9:13 24.1  Vang1   12-13
     All obs. were made with 12-inch ( reflector, usually at 63x
    magnification.  "fl" means the object flashed briefly to that magnitude
    as it zipped through the field of view.  My experience is that I fail
    to see Vanguard 1 more than half the times I look for it, presumably
    because the reflection off its spherical body is fainter than 13th
    magnitude, and that it requires a reflection off its tiny solar panels
    to reach 10th to 12th magnitude.
     For those of us who remember the first Vanguard's short and fiery
    journey at Cape Canaveral, the successful launch of Vanguard 1 three
    months later, and Nikita Khrushchev holding up a grapefruit in mocking
    comparison, it is a real thrill to see this little object.  I made a
    model of Vanguard 1 when I was in grade school, using a coconut shell
    from a Cuban castanet, some tubes from a burnt-out radio, soda straws,
    mirrors stolen from my sister's doll case, and aluminum foil.
    Seesat-l mailing list

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jan 03 2013 - 17:59:08 UTC