Oh What Fun It Is to Spy on Spy Satellites

Thierry Legault, an amateur astronomer and renowned astrophotographer, tracks classified satellites through the sky. 

Thierry Legault, an engineer and amateur astronomer, is famous for his striking photographs of space, like this image of the International Space Station silhouetted against the sun. He has also captured distant galaxies, the rings of Saturn, and even moonbows here on Earth. 

The ISSThierry Legault

Motherboard caught up with him recently to ask him about another facet of his stargazing hobby -- tracking satellites as they orbit the Earth. Working with a fellow astronomy buff, Emmanuel Rietsch, he combined his telescope setup with Rietsch's custom software to track objects across the sky automatically. Discovering and photographing these spacecraft overhead is especially fun, he explains, when the flying objects in question are classified intelligence satellites

“We know their trajectory, their orbital data, and we take images with some details,” he tells Motherboard (read the full article here), "but we can’t discover really the capabilities of these satellites. So it’s more like a game: spying spy satellites.” Check out the short documentary below, produced by Erin Lee Carr and Chris O'Coin for Motherboard, and browse more of Legault's photographs on his site.  

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

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