Satellites - it's getting crowded in Earth orbit

On the evening of 9 and 10 January 2024, I pointed my telescope at the Orion Nebula M 42 and was very surprised at how many satellites crossed the field of view within just 3 hours. Particularly conspicuous was an apparent motorway of slightly lower declination below the Orion Nebula. After a little thought I came up with the explanation for this apparently particularly popular satellite orbit.

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Satellite tracks in 3h exposure time

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M 42 The Orion Nebula and Neighbors

The celestial region shown in the image comprises the surroundings of the Large Orion Nebula. Most of the objects visible in the photographs are located in the Orion arm of the Milky Way, as is our home solar system.

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HDR image section of the Orion Nebula with surroundings, telescope Newton 130mm f/3.3, camera Canon EOS 6Da ISO800, 60x180s 10x: 60s, 30s, 10s, 5s

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Soul Nebula IC 1848 and Heart Nebula IC 1805

The Soul Nebula (IC 1848, Sharpless 2-199, LBN 667) is an emission nebula located in constellation Cassiopeia. Several small open clusters are embedded in the nebula. This complex is the eastern neighbor of IC1805 (Heart Nebula) and the two are often mentioned together as the "Heart and Soul".


The Heart Nebula (IC 1805, Sharpless 2-190) is an emission nebula, 7500 light years away from Earth and located in the Perseus Arm of the milky way (as the Soul Nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia).

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IC 1848 and IC 1805 in Constellation Cassiopeia, Telescope Newton f=430mm f/3.3, Camera Canon EOS 6Da, ISO800, Total Exposure Time 14h06min

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NGC 225 - Open Cluster in Constellation Cassiopeia

NGC 225 is an open cluster in the constellation Cassiopeia. It is located roughly 2,200 light-years from Earth. It is about 100 to 150 million years old. The binary fraction, or the fraction of stars that are multiple stars, is 0.52. It is also known as sailboat cluster. But what's happening at the top of the mast? The boat is obviously being boarded by an octopus - the more clearer, the longer you expose (or if you drink too much red wine)... Beside the quite nice, probably not so well known star cluster you can see interesting dust clouds and a reflection nebula, which are cataloged as LDN 1291 and LBN 604.

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NGC 225, the sailboat cluster in Constellation Cassiopeia, Telescope Newton 10" f/4, Camera Atik 460EXM, Total Exposure Time 11h05min

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M 31 - The Andromeda Galaxy

"The Andromeda Galaxy is a barred spiral galaxy and is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way. It was originally named the Andromeda Nebula and is cataloged as Messier 31, M31, and NGC 224. It has a diameter of about 46.56 kiloparsecs (152,000 light-years) and is approximately 765 kpc (2.5 million light-years) from Earth. The galaxy's name stems from the area of Earth's sky in which it appears, the constellation of Andromeda, which itself is named after the princess who was the wife of Perseus in Greek mythology.


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The Andromeda Galaxy M31 in Constellation Andromeda, Telescope Newton f=430mm f/3.3, Camera EOS60DaISO800, Total Exposure Time 6h39min

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The Iris Nebula NGC 7023

The Iris nebula is a bright reflecion nebula in the constellation Cepheus. It's appearance is caused by the very hot star HD 200775 in it's centre whose light is partly reflected and partly absorbed by surrounding dust clouds. As can be seen from the labeled image, the dust cloud itself can be found in Lynd's cataologue of dark nebulae as entry LDN 1174. The reflection nebula shines at magnitude +6.8. It lies 1,300 light-years away and is six light-years across

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NGC 7023 in Constellation Cepheus, Telescope Newton 10" f/4, Camera Atik 460EXM, Total Exposure Time 12h35min

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Mars close to Constellation Gemini on 25.03.2023

A wide angle shot on the island La Palma shortly after new moon. Due to the long exposure times the planet Mars can be seen as a bright reddish-yellow spot in the lower right corner whereas some well known deep-sky objects (the open cluster M35, the jelly-fish nebula IC 443 ant others) can be seen in the upper half of the image. The view was unfortunately a bit clouded by Sahara dust as a result of the weather phenomenon "Kalima" and the moon crescent illuminated thereby the sky already considerably.

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Mars close to Constellation Gemini on 25.03.2023, Picture taken on La Palma, 194x60s, telephoto lens f=135mm, ISO800 mit Canon EOS60Da

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M 106 - Galaxy in Constellation Canes Venatici

The galaxy Messier 106 (M 106) in the constellation Canes Venatici is one of our closer neighbour galaxies in roughly 23 million light years distance from the Milkyway and the Earth. The galaxy hosts an active nucleus with a black hole of approximately 40 million solar masses. The galaxy core is known as a radio source since the 1950s. Further the galaxy undergoes a period of increased star-formation (starburst galaxy).

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Crop of M 106 in Constellation Canes Venatici, Telescope Newton 10" f/4, Camera Atik 460EXM, Total Exposure Time 17h50min

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Tadpoles in the Cosmic Pond: IC 410 and NGC 1893

In the constellation Auriga on clear winter nights one can find the open cluster NGC 1893 embedded in the emission nebula IC 410. While NGC 1893 can be observed visually using a telescope with proper aperture the faint nebula IC 410 is a real hard case for the visual observer and much easier to catch by photography. Due to some smaller but prominent star formation regions the nebula IC 410 is nicknamed as the "tadpole nebula". IC 410 was discovered on September 25, 1892 by the (german) astronomer Max Wolf (June 21, 1863 - October 3, 1932) while the open cluster NGC 1893 was discovered already earlier on January 22, 1827 by the (british) astronomer John Herschel (Mar 7, 1792 - May 11, 1871).

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IC 410 and NGC 1893, camera Atik 460EXmono, optics Lacerta Newton f=1000mm f/4, 2023-02-08, Bad Kreuznach, Germany

What can be seen in the image is what cannot be seen visually through a telescope. The image is presented in false colors resulting from an (amongst astro-photographers widely known) image acquisition technique using narrow band filters.

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