Where can I find publicly accessible data from observatories in Europe?

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  • Thread starter GucciPotlood
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In summary, someone recommended making an account on this forum for a specific question, so here they are. They observed something strange in the night sky 10 years ago, and after thinking about it more, they determined it was a satellite that disappeared. They are close to finding out the date and location of the event.
  • #1
GucciPotlood
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TL;DR Summary
1. Where can I find publicly accessible data from an observatory in Europe?
2. Where can I find information on learning to interpret this data?
Someone recommended making an account on this forum for a specific question I have, so here I am. Hello! :)

So, this might be a long read, but I guess it makes sense to put some context around my question so it's clear what I am looking for.

So, maybe 10 years ago, me and one of my best friends observed something unusual in the night skies. We were outside with a few friends near a forest, on a clear summer night. While others were busy drinking and acting dumb, me and my best friend walked away a bit to escape from all the noise. We laid down in a field to look up into the skies for a peace of mind.

We were laying on our backs looking up for a couple of minutes, before we noticed something strange. At first we didn't really notices, but next to what I now know to be Schedar, there was a bright extra star. As the minutes passed by, we were thinking about what it could be, because it slowly came to us that this star hasn't been there before. After about 15 minutes, this star disappeared like someone turned off the light switch. Because we were kind of young at that time, we settled for the theory that it must have been a satellite reflecting the suns light with its solar panels, until the satellite shifted into the shadow side of the earth and therefor disappeared.

As I've always been an astro enthousiast, I kept learning more and more of this field in the years after. Lots of times I thought about what we saw, and more and more it occured to me that this could not have been a satellite, for the following reasons:

1. The star didn't move a tiny bit at all. It was fixed, right next to Schedar, and it hadn't moved for at least 15 minutes. It was easy to observe since this star was so close to Schedar.
2. The color hadn't shifted.
3. The light intensity didn't change, not even right before it disappeared. We both observed exactly the same: the star just disappearing in the blink of an eye. No dimming in advance or whatsoever.

Recently, since I'm into astrophotography, I've been thinking more about this and I cannot imagine it being a supernova, pulsar, magnetar or other cosmic phenomenon for that matter, since all of those should either shift it's color spectrum or change in light intensity. It couldn't be a satellite, plane or comet for that matter, since it was perfectly still for at least 15 minutes.

So what could it be?

Since this curiosity has been killing me lately, I decide to find it out once and for all. I contacted all friends present that day to try to remember as much details as possible, to create a timeline in order to determine the exact date of that event. We've been thinking about it for about 3 weeks now and we are close to a breakthrough: One of us took a specifically embarrising picture that night with a phone that saves the image by naming it with a date and time stamp, in the title. This picture is stored on an USB drive a friend of mine is looking for right now. So, chances are great we will soon know the exact date of that day.

Knowing the exact date and roughly the location of the event in the skies, my plan is to go through publicly accessable observatory archives to find out if it has been recorded.

Now the problem is... I have to admit that I have 0 knowledge or experience in going through such data. I even don't know where to start my search. The observation was made in The Netherlands, so it makes sense to look for observatory in Europe. But do they keep archives accessable by an amature astronomer (at best) like me? Does anyone have any knowledge and expierence on that matter?

I really hope someone here has the time to send me into the right direction, so I can learn to access and interpret the data. To be clear: As much as I would appreciate someone here going for the data and present it to me... The learningcurve towards the end result: useful data, is as much valueble to me as the end result itself. So what I am looking for is someone that would be able to share some links or whatever to 1. find observatory that have accessable archives en 2. explain or link me to a place where I can learn to use this data.

So I guess that's it. I really hope someone can help me out here. It would be very much appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

Guc
 
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  • #2
Schedar = α Cassiopeiae is not close to the ecliptic, so if it was a satellite, it was probably not a geostationary satellite reflecting sunlight. That would make it a polar orbit, such as a sun-synchronous orbit.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_orbit
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molniya_orbit
The Sun has a diameter of just over half a degree, so a reflection should pass in about two minutes due to Earth rotation. To maintain a sweeping orientation for 15 minutes is possible, but would be most unusual, which is why you are interested.
 
  • #3
Exactly, so that's why I am so eager to find it back.

Problem is, the observation was made in The Netherlands so most observatory data in for example hawaii is useless, because it was probably daytime over there.

I'm struggling to finf open source data from observatory in Europe or perhaps asia.
 
  • #5
I've tried to set back the date and time but I cannot find it anywhere. Is it because I need to make an account to login?
 
  • #6
GucciPotlood said:
Is it because I need to make an account to login?
You may need a free login account, to identify your location and time zone.
 

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