RE: Seeking identification of stars in photo

From: Bill Frost (
Date: Wed Jul 20 2011 - 21:27:29 UTC

  • Next message: "Re: Seeking identification of stars in photo"

    My father was the Team Leader of the Adelaide (South Australia) Moonwatch
    team (around 15 observers) that successfully observed Sputnik rocket body
    and payload and they carefully recorded their observations and sent them to
    the Smithsonian.  I will call him today and see if he can throw any light on
    this.  Understanding that he is now 87, he may remember the event clearly or
    not at all.
    Of course, all records went to the Smithsonian, albeit in a roundabout way
    as the University of Adelaide would not transmit them, based on antipathy to
    the Soviet Union by the physics dean, Professor Huxley, brother of the
    Huxley family of literary fame.  I still have the Moonwatch telescope used
    to observe Sputnik and somewhere I have recorded notes after asking my
    father exactly how it was done.  I will post these to the list.
    Perth is UTC + 8:00 and Adelaide is UTC + 9:30.  DST was not even thought
    about in Australia in 1957.
    -----Original Message-----
    [] On Behalf Of Ted
    Sent: Thursday, 21 July 2011 1:11 AM
    Subject: RE: Seeking identification of stars in photo
    George Roberts wrote:
    > >Perth is at
    > >  31.933S, 115.833 E
    > That was helpful, thanks.  Plus last night when I emailed I was about 
    > to go to bed.
    > If the picture was taken near perth and the camera frame was paralell 
    > with the horizon and the picture was taken on oct 9, 1957 utc then the
    > was taken at 18:55 UTC +/- 10 minutes.   Additionally for every degree the
    > camera is out of level could add 11 minutes to the error (this 11 
    > minutes was determined for this specific alt/azi/lat/declination 
    > position configuration).
    > I believe this works out to 2:55AM on oct 10 if they didn't use DST in 
    > Perth in 1957 but I'm much less sure of the time zone.  The time in 
    > UTC I have much more confidence in.
    I have fairly accurate preliminary orbits covering Oct 9, which enable me to
    state with confidence that the image could not have been taken on that date.
    As I mentioned in one of my posts yesterday, I have narrowed the date/time
    to Oct 27 near 20:40 UTC or Oct 28 near 20:21 UTC. The track on either date
    disagrees somewhat with my preliminary orbits. I have yet to determine
    whether the elements are off, or my guess of the coordinates of the
    photographer is incorrect.
    The photo is attributed to the time-keeper of the Perth Moonwatch team. If
    so, then assuming he took the photo while on duty with the team, the site
    would have been Moonwatch station 601, located at 32.00194 S, 115.85556 E, 5
    m (WGS-84).
    The SAO's (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) final table of
    observations lists observations on Oct 28 UTC, but my analysis revealed that
    they almost certainly were made on Oct 29 UTC (a different site's data on
    the same date was similarly afflicted, so probably an error in compiling the
    table). Since the SAO did not report any station 601 obs on Oct 27 or 28, it
    is possible that the team did not observe on those dates, in which case, the
    photo could have been taken from elsewhere, e.g. the time-keeper's home. It
    is also possible that the team did observe, but that session did not yield
    observations worth reporting to SAO, or that SAO decided not to publish
    them. A search of the SAO's archives may be required to resolve the
    Ted Molczan
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