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String of Flaring Geosats (Annotated) | by Amazing Sky Photography
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String of Flaring Geosats (Annotated)

Twice a year around the equinoxes geostationary satellites can flare in brightness when they are opposite the Sun and reflecting sunlight directly back to the viewer. This captures a string of geostationary satellites flaring near the opposition point, here below Mars this night, as Mars was just past opposition itself. This was October 17, 2020. The string of satellites appear as stationary points as they are fixed in the sky while the stars trail behind them, here in this stack of fifteen 30-second exposures. So the stars are moving from east to west but the geosats are not. Normally, geosats are very dim but when they flare they do get bright enough to see naked eye.


While geosats orbit in the equatorial plane of Earth they appear below the Celestial Equator here (which is the projection of Earth’s equator onto the sky) due to parallax from me observing them from my latitude of 51° North.


All exposures 30 seconds at f/2 and ISO 3200 with the Sigma 20mm lens and Nikon D750. Stacked in Photoshop. I framed the scene to capture more geosats to the south as the opposition point moved to due south but clouds moved in. This is looking southeast.

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Taken on October 17, 2020