Amateur astrophotographers are hacking together sophisticated telescopes enabling them to track and document orbiting satellites, including spy satellites. For example, they recently recorded the National Reconnaissance Agency's not-so-secret Lacrosse 5 sat doing a "disappearance trick" in which it periodically vanishes for several seconds. Seen here is astrophotographer Emmanuel Rietsch's photo of the Space Shuttle Atlantis docked at the International Space Station in 2010. From Scientific American:
High-end consumer telescopes resting on motorized, programmable mounts that match Earth's rotational speed to keep the scope pointed at stars and planets as they cross the sky have long been standard equipment. (Astrophotographer Emmanuel) Rietsch's innovation, developed at the request of Thierry Legault, a friend and fellow French astrophotographer, is hardware and software that pushes the mount to operate many times faster in order to keep up with comparatively speedy satellites. Legault and Rietsch use Prism and Adobe Premiere to improve the clarity of the images they capture and VirtualDub to convert the images for use online.
With the hacked-together system, Legault produced "the first useful images I have seen" of last year's doomed Russian Mars probe Phobos–Grunt as well as spy satellites, veteran backyard astronomer Ted Molczan says. Together, Reitsch and Legault "have advanced the amateur state of the art by combining high-quality optics and cameras with an automated tracking system built by Rietsch," adds Molczan, himself well-known for observing man-made satellites in orbit and posting information about them to the Web. This includes the American military satellite USA 193, which malfunctioned after little more than a year and was shot down by a U.S. warship in 2008.
"Spy-High: Amateur Astronomers Scour the Sky for Government Secrets" (SciAm)
Thierry Legault's Spy Satellites page
Emmanuel Rietsch's ManuAstro page
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is “stuck” in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don’t need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, […]
Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences? Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon We […]
If you want a quality vaping experience, it’s usually going to cost you. Vaporizers that deliver a fast, controlled burn will set you back up to $300, which is why the FEZ Vaporizer (now just $99) is an absolute steal.The FEZ dry herb pen does everything that more expensive models handle at a reduced price. It heats up […]
Taking pictures can be challenging. There are a million factors that can influence each shot you take – and unless you’re a trained photographer, you often just focus, click…and cross your fingers.Of course, you can take some of the ambiguity out of your picture-taking with this Hollywood Art Institute Photography Course & Certification package, now […]
Experienced shutterbugs with DSLR cameras have boatloads of lens options for capturing the moment. Unfortunately, smartphone photographers often get stuck with their one crummy lens, which means limited zoom and focus for their final image.Step up your smartphone’s photographic power with the Acesori 5-Piece Smartphone Camera Lens Kit, now just $9.99 in the Boing Boing Store.Magnetic rings easily […]