During the Geminid meteor shower I took over 1,000 photos. When reviewing the pictures you basically have to step through each pic looking for meteors. As you skip through pictures you see the stars move and sometimes you will see something that wasn’t there before. I noticed something over a series of 40 pictures at 30 seconds each, a total of 20 minutes. I thought it was a satellite a first, but after review I noticed it stayed in the field of view for 20 minutes but most of the satellites I’ve photographed before only lasted for 30 seconds or less. So I guessed this was probably a slow moving high orbit satellite. I thought it would have been cool if this was a comet or an asteroid or an alien UFO, but I asked around and my initial suspicions were confirmed. This is most likely a HEO satellites (HEO=Highly Elliptical Orbit: aka ‘Molniya’ orbits) or a geosynchronous satellite. I’m still working on an official ID. It would be nice if one of these times I would catch an actual alien mothership.
Here is the full photo of the picture. Can you see the satellite streak? (hint: lower left, to the left of Sirius).
UPDATE: Jan 5th, 2009:
Marco Langbroek from SatCamTracking was able to identify this satellite as a Russian GLONASS navigation satellite. Here’s what Marco had to say:
It is Kosmos 1948 (88-043C), a Russian GLONASS navigation satellite launched in 1988. GLONASS is the Russian equivalent of the American GPS. They move in orbits with a revolution period of two revolutions/day, at roughly 19000 km altitude (that’s some 12000 miles).