Monday, October 17, 2011

Observations of astronomy satellite Spektr R

On Saturday October 15, 2011 a bright (magnitude 13.5) and fast object (observed by 703 Catalina Sky Survey) was published on the Neocp list with the designation ST37690.

We performed some follow-up measurements of this object while it was still on the neocp on October 15.5 remotely from the GRAS Observatory (near  Mayhill, NM) through a 0.25-m, f/3.4 reflector + CCD. Soon after ST37690 object was removed from Neocp list because it was not a minor planet.

As it turned out, ST37690 was actually the artificial satellite SPEKTR-R (official designation 2011-037A). Spektr R is a Russian orbital radio telescope, and currently the largest space telescope in orbit.

According to Nasa website:

"Spektr R, a Russian radio astronomy satellite, was launched from Baikonur on 18 July 2011 at 02:31 UT by a Zenit 3F rocket. Spektr R is one element of an international network of observatories in a project called RadioAstron. Funded by the Russian Astro Space Center, Spektr R features a 10-m diameter antenna reflector designed to help astronomers see deeper into supermassive black holes, obtain views of collapsed stars, and better measure the influence of dark energy on the cosmos. When linked together, RadioAstron's telescopes have a resolution of 7 microarcseconds"

More info about it on "Sky & Telescope" website.

Below you can see the animation showing the fast movement of Spektr R in the sky (10 frames of 20-seconds exposure each):

by Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero & Nick Howes

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