We found the moon in the orbit / SurprizingFacts

Dear friends!

We built, built and finally built!


On July 14, 2017, at 9:36 Moscow time, a Soyuz-2.1a rocket with a payload from the large Canopus-V-IC satellite and 72 small spacecrafts was launched from the Baikonur launch site No. 31, Thus setting a new record for domestic space exploration in terms of the number of spacecraft simultaneously output into space.

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The launching into orbit and the breeding of satellites were provided by the Fregat upper stage. 2.5 hours after the launch, at 12:15 Moscow time the Mayak satellite, the first Russian satellite created by enthusiasts, set off from the transport-launch container to a free flight

After another 7.5 hours, when the satellite flew over night Baikonur, the project team went to the shore of the Syr Darya to find it visually. At the estimated time, both the satellite developers and unfamiliar viewers saw bright, non-periodic satellite flashes. Our joy was not the limit!


But later it turned out that these were not the flashes! We confused the direction of arrival of the device, looked the other way and saw flashes of something else. It's funny that we looked to the south, because we thought that once the missile flew north before our eyes, then later, by skirting the Earth, it will fly from the south. We did not take into account that 10 hours after the start, the Earth will have time to turn around its axis of rotation and expose us to the orbit on the other side:)

And then we will talk about how the Mayak project team searched for its satellite in the sky, about that , As it seems to have been found, and how you can participate in the search with us.

Cluster launch

The "lighthouse" is one of 73 vehicles that went into orbit that day. Many satellites of that launch are not larger than the shoe box, and therefore it is rather difficult to find them in orbit. Fortunately, satellites in space are interested not only in space enthusiasts, but also in the military. We in Russia have the main center for reconnaissance of the cosmic situation, in the USA there are NORAD, which maintain their catalogs of space objects larger than 5 cm. Our military, in the good old tradition, keeps their catalog in secret, the American ones publish most of it here, Secret satellites.

And today, 3 days after the launch, NORAD published data on our launch. In this long list, everything below the Canopus-V-IC satellite is our 72 satellites. Data on the orbits of spacecraft are listed in a two-line format, TLE (the specification can be studied here).

Which of the Mayak satellites?

Since the number of objects in the NORAD catalog corresponds to the number of satellites announced for launch, we assumed that all the satellites, including the "Mayak", were regularly separated from the upper stage and set off for a free flight. Also Roskosmos, and the NGO them. Lavochkin confirmed that the work of the "Frigate" was completed regularly and all the satellites were put into target orbits. And then we were faced with the task of determining which of these satellites is ours.

We reasoned as follows:

  1. The satellites were withdrawn in three batches. The first to separate was Canopus-V-IC, then a group of 24 small vehicles, the last to be separated were Flock. "Lighthouse" was in the second group, it means its number in the catalog from 42826 to 42849. This is just 24 vehicles that have orbits with similar inclinations.
  2. We looked at the description of the TLE format and found, in addition to the orbital elements, also the parameters No.9 "The first derivative of the average motion (acceleration), divided by two" and No. 11 "The deceleration factor". In our opinion, these parameters characterize the magnitude of changes in orbital parameters over time. Roughly speaking, than these parameters are larger, the faster the satellite brakes.
  3. Yeah, we thought, you can try to find the "Lighthouse" for its rapid decline. On the fingers, we estimated the ballistic coefficients of Mayak and our fellow travelers. We had about 1 m ^ 2 / kg, and for all other devices – not more than 0.01 m ^ 2 / kg. Hence, in this sense, "Mayak" is unique, and this feature can be used. The ballistic coefficient is the ratio of the cross-sectional area of ​​the satellite to its mass. A large and light companion, like ours, should brake the fastest;)
  4. Looking through numbers from 42826 to 42849, we found one object with extreme values ​​of these parameters! This is 42830 or 2017-042F according to the international classification. If the values ​​are the largest, it means that its orbit evolves the fastest, and it is faster than all fellow travelers!

    We thought that this "Mayak" and its pyramid was uncovered!

* The line of the trajectory, denoted by the dotted line, is part of the orbit in which the satellite is in the shadow of the Earth.

Is it exactly this?

Of course, such reasoning is very approximate. A few more nights must pass for observers, amateurs and professionals to find the object 2017-042F in the sky, plotted its brightness curves (the dependence of its brightness on time). In addition, NORAD should issue several TLE sets, in which it should be seen that 2017-042F is falling faster than others.

Therefore, we urge observers to monitor the flights of Mayak, inform us, the project team, the results of their observations and participate in every possible way In the analysis of the data obtained!

How can we find it now in the sky!?

Unfortunately, the previously planned special mobile application "KosmoMayak" did not meet our expectations for the functionality. While the application is being hastily reworked, we recommend using one of the special applications for celestial objects on the celestrak.com website.

You can select the application suitable for your system – Windows, iOS, Android, etc.
The following are more detailed settings for several free applications, which seemed to us the most convenient and functional.


For Android, we recommend using the SatOrbit application. At the first launch, the application will download the actual data on the orbits of all observable spacecraft. Then the data will be updated automatically several times a day. After that, you need to specify your location in the settings. If the program can not determine the position by GPS, you can enter the coordinates manually.

For Moscow, you need to enter:

Latitude: 55.7522200 °
Longitude: 37.6155600 °
Height: 144 m

After that, you can specify the ID of the observed satellite, for МАЯКа it is 2017-042F . Now only this satellite and its orbit data, speed and visibility will be visible on the map.

Continuation …


For iOS, you can use the pxSatelliteTracking application. The interface is somewhat weird, but it is compensated by good features.

We launch and immediately go to the settings:

Continuation …

By default, the application shows ISS (ISS), delete. Click on the icon "TLE" (after downloading the database it will turn into "Sites").

Scroll down the list to the record "Last 30 days launches" (these are the latest 30 days launches) And enter it.

We click on the "update" icon at the top, the database of recently launched satellites will start loading.

Enter the lighthouse ID – 2017-042F

Everything, now the application is set to display our satellite!

Next we need to specify the point on the globe where we are. Go to the Station tab below.
By default, there are Cupertino and Paris – click "Edit".

We will take down Cupertino and Paris (if you are not there, of course) and click "New Station" (referring to the observation station) .

Click on the location icon (the iphone will ask you to allow the definition of geolocation – we allow), wait for the coordinates to be determined, after a couple of seconds click on the "Save" button.

Now let's see the time of the visible passage of the Lighthouse over our location.
To do this, go to the bookmark "Satellites", there will be displayed one of our satellite (and the ISS, if you did not delete it). Make sure to the left of the Lighthouse there was a yellow-blue satellite icon – this displays it on the map. If not, click to the left of the name, then click on the "i" icon on the right side of the satellite line.

Now the visible spans are displayed, to the left – the time of the beginning of the span and the end time of the observation. Clicking on the line with a specific span, you can put a reminder.

And finally see how it will then fly, where and where.
Go to the "Station" tab, and click on the map icon in the upper left corner.

A (somewhat strange) map appears. The top shows time and date, and below there is a scroller with a scale of time change (working the other way). You can, with your finger on the scroll, change the time and look how and where the satellite is flying. Clicking on the satellite itself will show its trajectory, and on the right-hand side of the menu the satellite icon – clicking on it, you can show the remaining sections of the orbit. The map view can be changed from the second on the left by the icon in the upper row.

A map of the sky with an orbit (you can rotate your finger) and a common sky map.


For the Internet browser, you can use the resource: Heavens-Above (you need to select only 2017 and scroll to the very bottom of the list, page 13, Mayak ). It is true that our satellite is currently assigned the designation 2017-042E but we plan to contact colleagues from this resource and find out what this is related to and correct the mistake.

In the card of our satellite number is already correct 2017-042F . Here you can see the orbit and dates of the nearest visible spans over your location (example for Moscow).

Note: The star magnitude is indicated without taking into account the disclosed reflector.

The location is indicated on the main resource page or here.


For Windows, you can use the Heavensat program.


The closest span is almost at its zenith for observation from Moscow and Moscow region right now tonight 07/18/2017 at 00:57:58

Trajectory in the sky:

The Final!

We have completed our project. Successfully completed 🙂 He was difficult and ambitious. We hope you were interested in watching us and our work.

Now our team takes a little breath and slowly ponders the following projects … But more on this later;) but for now you can look at the night sky … there …

We light the stars!


Through the efforts of observers from the AstroForum, colleagues working in CAO and Mini-MegaTORTORA

we received the first photos and videos of potential candidates for Mayak:


Photograph by Evgeniy Semenko, Ekaterina Semenova. The place of shooting 43.887377, 41.523558.

More in the separate post in the same place we will promptly update the photo and video materials.
Given that the first few TLEs usually contain incomplete information, we continue to collect data together with the participants of the Summer Space School to calculate the exact orbital parameters of our satellite.

Special thanks to everyone who has the opportunity and joined the Video-fixing of the LIGHTHOUSE in the sky!)

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