January 5, 2013

Black Heli... er, Satellites

  So ValHallen and I headed north last night for some shooting, motivated primarly by the arrival of a (working) USB OTG cable so he could control his 60D from his Nexus tablet. I'll let him post about that in his own time. For now, let's cast our minds back a few weeks.

  On our Geminid shoot, I'd taken a stack pointing towards Auckland, above Crux. When I reviewed the shots for the stack the next day, I was startled to see satellite trails through the images. "Startled by satellite trails? You must be new to this..." you say. You would be well within your rights to say so. Except in this case it was twin trails, offset by a few degrees and one trailing the other, but dead parallel. "Ah! Now that is more interesting!" you exclaim. And again, you'd be right. Subsequent extensive and intensive research (ie, I Googled it and it came up right away) leads me to think it's likely they're these. Fun! Nasa's new radiation-belt-studying twins have only been up there for 4 months and I snapped them quite by accident. Here's the stack, with the sat's photoshopped back in, as stacking killed them of course. If you don't know why stacking killed them, you must be new to this...

Trails just left of centre, near the top of the image, click to embiggen.

  That was a few weeks ago, and should have been the end of a mildly interesting story. But at this point, things start to become a little Sinister! Yes, Sinister! Capital S and exclamation mark fully intended!

 Back in the present,I sat down this morning to go through the shots from last night, up on a beach near here. I'd barely glanced through the first dozen of the forty-odd snaps when there they were, brighter and bolder than ever - the same two satellites! Shooting towards Lesser Megallanic this time, but no doubting they're the Twin Streaks I'd caught above.

  This the first time we'd been back out on photo safari together since the Geminids.What are the odds the satellites would again be overhead? I don't think they're studying the Van Allen belts at all. I think they're spying on our photo safaris! Two astro-photogrophers, two satellites... think about it, people! We've reached the point where Nasa is clearly getting jealous of the quality of our photos, and our bang-to-buck ratio, and is concerned about their funding. That they're not trying to hide suggests to me a veiled threat. I'm posting this publicly before they can get to me. If I disappear tell my family I love them.

Look to the skies, people! Look to the skies!

- gfkBill

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