The Other Night Sky

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Active Military and Reconnaissance Satellites of the United States of America Multimedia Installation

Trevor Paglen's “The Other Night Sky” is a project to track and photograph classified American satellites in Earth orbit, a total of 189 covert spacecraft. To develop the body of work, Paglen was assisted by observational data produced by an international network of amateur “satellite observers.”

To translate the observational data into a useable form, Paglen worked with Fellows in the Eyebeam Production Lab, to develop a software model to describe the orbital motion of classified spacecraft.

With these tools, he is able to calculate the position and timing of overhead reconnaissance satellite transits and photograph them with telescopes and large-format cameras using a computer-guided mechanical mount. The resultant skyscapes are marked by trails of sunlight reflected from the hulls of obscure spacecraft hurtling through the night.

Project Created: 
January 2007