HTV-4 Caught with a Flare

HTV-4 as photographed by Ralf Vandebergh

HTV-4 as photographed by Ralf Vandebergh

Last night I observed two passes of the HTV-4 (Kounotori-4), just before it was grappled successfully today with the Canadarm-2 for berthing to the International Space Station. I observed a lower pass – earlier in the evening – with binoculars and it showed the typical reddish color I witnessed more then once in an HTV vehicle. I dare say that the HTV is one of the most deeply red satellites we can observe in the night sky. What I also witnessed were some nice flares off the HTV body; these have been reported by more observers since the HTV-4 launched. One additional note is that the HTV turned more white when it turned to the East. This could be relatively easily explained by the structure and the layers of the colored foil and how it is wrapped around the HTV.

I caught the second pass of the HTV-4 with the telescope, just in a short break in the clouds. I succeeded to capture one big HTV-flare as seen in the animation. We can see the elongated shape of the HTV and the reddish color which is the real color with no increased color saturation. This demonstrates once again that the HTV is one of the most colored satellites we can observe!

Click on the image for an animation of the HTV-4 flare (Photographed by Ralf Vandebergh)

Click on the image for an animation of the HTV-4 flare (Photographed by Ralf Vandebergh)

 

About the author

Ralf Vandebergh

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Astrophotographer & independent journalist specializing in high resolution imaging of spacecraft in orbit. Captured ground-views of the last contruction years of the ISS. Took first ever ground-based image of astronauts during EVA. Sub-specialization currently is visualization of rotational/tumbling behave of (dead) satellites and debris/space junk. Writing for different newspapers and magazines about (space)science and technology.