Vela (the Sail) is a rather large constellation on the southern hemisphere, and together with Carina (the Keel), Puppis (the Stern), and Pyxis (the Compass), it forms the compound constellation Argo Navis.

It has no alpha or beta stars (meaning the brightest stars in a constellation), as it was once part of Argo, and none of the stars have been assigned new names after the separation.

It looks roughly like this:

        _ _ -o _
    o -          O - _
                 |     -O  
                |      | 
 _o             |      |
O _ _          |   _ -o   
      - -o - - O -
Also a series of 12 satellites developed for the US Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) to detect nuclear detonations in the Earth's atmosphere.

They were launched between 1963 and 1970 in pairs from a single vehicle and placed 180 degrees apart in circular orbits or approx. 111,000 km (or 69,000 miles for the Americans (well I suppose they were their satellites)), (btw, that's higher than geo-synchronous orbit).

On September 22 1979 one of the Velas registered a brilliant flash between Africa and Antartica. One explanation is that the satellite was hit by a micrometeoroid, however, some believe that it detected a clandestine nuclear test by South Africa or some other suspected nuclear state (South Africa and Israel are believed to have co-developed nuclear weapons secretly).

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