# High caliber observation geodetic calc

Discussion in 'GNSS & Geodesy' started by paden cash, Aug 10, 2017.

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A few evenings ago I was sitting outside with dogs staring at the stars. At around 10:30 PM CST I observed an object that was traveling west to east at a high rate of speed. I'm right at about 35 degrees N lat and 97.3 degrees W long. The object was most nearly directly over head. With obstacles considered I was able to see this thing from an elevation angle of about 80 degrees above the west horizon (almost overhead) and it traveled west where I lost it behind a large cedar at an elevation angle of approx. 45 degrees above the east horizon. It's speed was greater than any satellite or aircraft I have ever seen in my 67 years of watching the night sky. I timed it and it took 3 seconds to cover the approx. 55 degrees of arc in my field of view.

I am of the opinion its illumination was a reflection of the sun. It was not unlike a lot of high aircraft and low satellites that are visible after sunset with an altitude that places them still within view of the sun. As the object approached an elevation angle of 45 degrees above the west horizon it dimmed and disappeared, I'm assuming, as it entered the shadow of the earth.

Given all those factors I have attempted to calculate the object's altitude. From that I should be able to calculate its speed. But I find myself getting lost in the numbers. Is there anybody out there that might simplify the matter for this old fart?

2. ### Scott EllisBanned

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Do you think it might have been the Space Station?

3. ### Mark Mayer7-Year Member

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Meteorite. It must have been fairly low altitude, as in not in orbit.

4. ### toivo10376-Year Member

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The ISS travels a specific orbit path much like a sine wave. I have seen the ISS several times and its speed is much slower than what I observed. Whatever I saw was cutting a rug almost due west to due east.

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Meteors are common this time of year Mark. I'm not going to say they all exhibit the same behavior, but this was slower than a meteor and did not fluoresce or 'burn'. It appeared to be maintaining a speed, altitude and direction.

7. ### Scott EllisBanned

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mcaanda likes this.

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9. ### MathTeacher4-Year Member

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Space shuttles took roughly 90 minutes to complete an orbit, traveling at about 18,000 miles per hour. At that rate, a space shuttle would cover 55 degrees in about 825 seconds (55/360*90*60 = 825). That dude was indeed booking it, much faster than this: https://blogs.scientificamerican.co...eor-broke-speed-record-for-atmospheric-entry/

That sinusoidal path is tricky; this site describes it: http://howthingsfly.si.edu/ask-an-e...ject-sinusoidal-wavy-path-over-earths-surface This is similar to the distortions that occur when earthly lines are projected onto state planes or LDPs.

I'm jealous; I wish I had seen it. I saw my first meteor flash when I was 8 or 9 years old and it scared me nearly to death. It flew right over the two-story skyline of my hometown looking just like a round sparkler. There were three or four of us neighborhood guys outside and we all ran in and told our parents. Nobody believed us, but we saw what we saw.

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With some help from an almanac, a legal pad and a calculator I've determined the object I observed was at an altitude (AGL) of somewhere around 3000 miles and traveling at approx. 133,000 miles per hour. If it was of earthly origin I hope someone from Lockheed was involved.

11. ### Dave Lindell7-Year Member

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It was Kent leaping over the fence with his over-powered jet pack.

Nate The Surveyor and Loyal like this.
12. ### MathTeacher4-Year Member

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I would, but in review I screwed up big time (not surprising). Let me fiddle with it some more. Stand by...

14. ### Artie Kay5-Year Member

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You might be able to identify it using the 'heavens above' website + get data on its altitude and speed.

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