The history of the CASTOR Satellite Catalogue can be traced back to one single event on December 27, 2006.

As CASTOR's founder tried to decide what to do to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik (on October 4, 2007), he wanted to do more than attend a lecture or present a lecture. He wanted to do something much more meaningful.

On that day, he decided to do something he had never done before. Through 2007, he would attempt to optically detect and track 1,957 satellites (in honour of Sputnik's year of launch).

On January 2, 2007 (January 1 was clouded over), CASTOR detected its first catalogued satellite: Cosmos 1674. Although the campaign was actively recorded on the CASTOR web site, the catalogue did not officially exist at that time. At the time, CASTOR was trying to meet a goal and not directly trying to compile a catalogue of satellites.

CASTOR reached its 1,957 satellite goal at 23:45 UTC on November 13, 2007; 315 days after the "Sputnik Campaign" began. The campaign would not stop there. CASTOR continued to detect and track new satellites until the final clear day of 2007.

CASTOR detected its final satellite of the year: Cosmos 1732 on December 18, 2007. It was the 2,052nd satellite CASTOR detected that year. CASTOR had topped its campaign goal by nearly 100 satellites.

In an interesting twist, one final satellite would be detected after the fact. Within the final few days of 2007, CASTOR was analyzing images from November 3, 2007 and noticed a satellite it had not detected before. The Cosmos 2146 satellite was extremely faint, but was noticeable during blink comparison. Rather than trying to renumber the previous entries, the satellite was simply stuck at the end of the list and called #2053.

The story did not end there. At the end of 2007, CASTOR noticed that right up to the end of the 2007 campaign, it was continuing to detect many new satellites. At that stage, it was decided to continue with the campaign, but to organize the detections from 2007 into a new catalogue that had never been compiled before. This mammoth effort was done throughout 2008.

The CASTOR Satellite Catalogue was born near the end of 2008 as a wind-up to the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) in 2009. CASTOR celebrated the IYA by challenging itself to detect an additional 1,000 satellites in the year 2009.

For the first month of the new campaign, the detecting and tracking was relatively uneventful, until the month of February. On February 10, 2009, two satellites collided over Siberia, causing a major uproar throughout the satellite community. CASTOR attempted to detect some of the resulting debris for several weeks, but only detected one single piece of the Iridium 33 spacecraft on March 20, 2009.

The 1000th satellite of 2009 (#3053 in the catalogue) was detected on October 26, 2009. It was a satellite of unknown origin.

Throughout 2009, CASTOR continued its new survey until the final clear day of December 29, 2009, when it detected Iridium 19, a close cousin of the doomed Iridium 33. The satellite was #3153 in the catalogue, meaning that CASTOR had detected a total of 1,100 additional satellites in 2009.

At the present time, CASTOR has detected over 4,000 satellites since it began its massive survey on January 1, 2007. If CASTOR obtains larger aperture telescopes or better CCD cameras, it will continue to catalogue its detections even as new satellites are launched.





History of the CASTOR Satellite Catalogue Was Last Modified On January 04, 2012