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Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Flares from NanoSail-D (and a competition)

As I mentioned earlier, the Earth-orbiting Solar Sail NanoSail-D can be glimpsed in our skies as a fairly dim object. But NanoSail-D's highly reflective solar sail can catch the Sun's rays and the satellite appear to flare brilliantly.

Unfortunately, the timing of the flares can't be predicted, as the orientation of the sail is not known well enough. However, they may be more likely when the satellite is near the horizon.

The good news is that NASA and Spaceweather.com are staging a photo contest.
Cash prizes ranging from $100 to $500 are being offered for best images of NanoSail-D submitted between now and the time the sail disintegrates. High-resolution telescopic images of the spacecraft, wide-angle shots of NanoSail-D soaring overhead, and lucky-shots of flares are all eligible.
Visit nanosail.org for details of the competition.

Again, to see NanoSail-D, head over to Heavens Above where they have a dedicated link (next to the dedicated ISS link). Set up your local position and click on the link to find when you can see it. For CalSky, you have to click on the Satellites menu item, then click on Sat-Library, then search for NanoSail-D2. There are also predictions from Spaceweather.com

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