Sunday, July 5, 2009

LCROSS Captured in Flight by Amateur Astronomer

Sunday, July 5, 2009

On June 29, 2009, as part of the LCROSS Observation Campaign, Paul Mortfield, an avid amateur astronomer and frequent contributer to NASA missions, took a series of images of the LCROSS Shepherding Spacecraft and Centaur as they passed through the night sky. LCROSS is currently orbiting the Earth-moon system on its 5,592,000 mile (9,000,000 km) journey to the moon.

Capturing these images is no easy feat. The spacecraft is only 47 feet (14.5 m) long with a diameter of 10 feet (3 m). At the time of the images were taken, the spacecraft was approximately 288,100 miles (463,700 km) from Earth, traveling at a speed of 0.58 miles/sec (0.94 km/s).

The images were taken with an Apogee U16M 4Kx4K CCD Camera attached to a Ritchey-Chretian 16"f/8.9 telescope and a focal length of 3,530 mm. The image scale is 1.04 arcsec/pixel and the frames were binned 2x2. Each exposure was 60 sec in length to show enough trailing of the spacecraft.

For more information about Paul Mortfield, visit:

To participate in the LCROSS Observation Campaign for amateur astronomers, visit:


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