One of the things that Radio Amateurs worry about, especially when tracking satellite in low earth orbit, is whether the antennas are really pointing in the right direction. Yes, we use computer controlled equipment that interfaces to the antenna rotator controllers, but as always, the best way of verifying anything is to see it with your own eyes.
So, given that the ARISS contact at the Royal Masonic School was expected at 1809UTC, and the UK would be in well into the evening darkness, we installed a remote camera on the roof of the building and fed the signal back down to a monitor next to the radios so that we could see what was happening.
What we didn’t necessarily bank on was the fact that the skies would be clear – remember, the UK has been having a series of winter storms recently. Howard, G6LVB, one of the members of the ARISS UK Operations Team, was recording a small video clip and caught something very special. Howard’s video is here – take a very close look as it is very quick. Between approximately 11 and 16 seconds into the video, Howard catches something on the camera monitor – look for the small bright dot towards the top of the monitor.
Yes, we managed to capture the ISS orbiting over the UK, whilst talking to, and watching, Tim Peake inside the hall – all at the same time.
Oh, and the antennas were pointing in the right direction 🙂