Dec 12

S.S. Gene Cernan – Orbital ATK Cygnus OA-8 flying solo

I have been only dreaming about taking an image of Cygnus OA-8 since it departed form the International Space Station on 6th of December. This morning (11th December) I have never imagined this will happen tonight as it was snowing till about 1pm in London. But satellite pictures showed that it might clear up so I rushed home from work, packed up all my gear and went to the nearest park. First ISS came nice and bright. Then Cygnus came which was very bright too, at least much brighter than I expected (mag 2.9 according to Calsky’s predictions). Size may not be totally to scale because at the time of the photo ISS was about 100km farther than Cygnus. So the station looks a bit smaller compared to a imaginary real scale comparison.

Cygnus dimensions: 6.3 m (21 ft.) in length by 3.07 m (10.1 ft.) in diameter

IMPORTANT! They were not on the same screen/field of view, Cygnus followed ISS about 5 mins after.


Below you will find four images at original size as it was shot at full camera resolution. Left-hand side raw frames, right-hand side enhanced in Photoshop (click on photos for larger size).

Skywatcher 250/1200 Flextube dobson scope
Zwo ASI224MC camera
TeleVue 2.5x powermate
Manual tracking

Since Northrop Grumman (formal Orbital ATK) company give names to their cargo ships, this one is called S.S. Gene Cernan to remember the Apollo-17 astronaut, who passed away shortly before Cygnus was launched.
Rest in Peace Gene Cernan!


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