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The brightest geostationary satellite


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I expect they would be really faint, at 35,000 odd kilometers above the Earth, but has anyone seen one? Do they remain quite static in the sky (as their name would obviously imply).

I'd really like to see one if it is within the range of my 8-inch Newt

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Thats a good question, i've often wondered that.

My dad isn't into astronomy, a shame since he lives in a great dark sky area, but he proudly announced he had seen the "Earth Satellite", meaning one of the geo-stat ones and that it was there every night.

he still doesn't believe that it is Jupiter he was looking at :)

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From the Observing Geostationary Satellites page:

"Typically the satellite will be in the mag. +11 to +14 range (or dimmer), but brightening by several magnitudes when the geometry is favourable (around mag. +5 to +6 is not untypical). One satellite is reported to have briefly been visible to the naked eye at mag. +3 !"

I'm sure if you Google around a bit, you'll find out which one(s) you'd be able to see. Best of luck to you, and please let us know how it goes. :)

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Cheers for these pointers, I'll definitely check them out.

Just struck me these are the only objects in the known universe which can be viewed without a clock drive on the scope or so much as having to move the telescope by one milli-arcsecond :)

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Where's the "fun" in observing geostationary satellites?

They move with the planet rotation so always appears stationary (hense the name). They would just look like stars. It's more "fun" to observe satellite that appear to move across the sky. You dont even need to plan to see them. Just point your bins (try tracking one with a scope..............good luck) upwards and they will cross your FOV alot more often then you would imagine.

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We spotted a geostationary satellite a couple of years ago whilst using an 8" Orion Intelliscope. At first it appeared that it was a normal satellite moving against the background star field, and then we realised that as the scope was undriven and not moving, the object had to be geostationary. It caused a great deal of amusement once the truth dawned, however the "excitement" faded after few minutes of staring at a "fixed star".

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Almost every Spring I manage to pick up one in Orion. It is odd to let the field drift with no clock and have it guide on the satellite.

Just browse around the celestial equator and you should pick up something.

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