HST flare and introduction (long)

Mal and Ava Bishop (abishop@lowcountry.com)
Tue, 20 Apr 1999 15:40:35 -0400

Hi List,

I thought it was finally time to formally introduce myself to the list.
My name is Mal and I have been a lurker on this list for several months
mainly due to the lack of time that I can spend on this hobby at the 
present time, and the newbie-itis I felt at first.  

Although I have a background in technology, engineering and science,
I felt a little intimidated trying to add anything of interest or pertinence
to this list of very sharp, knowledgeable, and dedicated individuals!
I have enjoyed amateur astronomy as a hobby off and on for years,
and just plain stargazing for shear enjoyment and relaxation.
I still remember fondly my first little 60 mm telescope my dad bought me
when I was around 8 or 9 years old - some 30+ years ago.

My interest ebbed and flowed as far as astronomy was concerned over the
years as other technical and scientific experiences vied for my attention.
But over the last several years I regained an enthusiasm for astronomy,
the space program, and well, anything to do with the science and technology
involved in searching, traveling, and learning of that vastness beyond our
frail
and tenuous existence.  SETI, meteorite collecting, an intense interest in
ISS construction, collecting mission patches and pins commemorating this
endeavor,
and last but not least, my recent serendipitous discovery of SATELLITE
OBSERVING!

I still get excited when I think of how I stumbled upon information on this
hobby/passion
when I read an article in Astronomy magazine about the Iridium satellites
and how to 
observe them as well as other man made satellites.  I surfed the net, found
out about
prediction software, elsets, webpages dedicated to the hobby (many of the
sites belonging
to individuals on this list).  I couldn't wait to run my first element
sets, go outside and
wait in excited anticipation to view my first predictions.  I just couldn't
believe it
when satellite #15334 Cosmos 1603 r4 (84106B) came into view just like
predicted!
I was as giddy as a child and ran into the house like a madman to announce this
wonderment to my wife in hopes of getting her to join in before it was too
late.
She was tickled, I guess, because I was so excited; anyway, she joined me and
we spent a couple of hours together doing something that, well, was just
very special!
I still have those first log sheets with the star plots and sat. tracks I
used that first night
and I plan to keep them forever!

Enough of the sentimentality - 

After recently conversing via e-mail with Rob Matson on the subject of
meteor vs.
satellite entry/reentry characteristics and how they appear to an observer on
the ground, I felt it time to come out of the shadows, so to speak.
Bob was very helpful and friendly and I realized I wanted to participate,
rather
than stand on the sidelines!  So anyway, here is my first inquiry to the list.

As I was observing HST Sunday evening (4/18) it appeared (~ 00:28 UTC) just
as expected at 
~ 2.0 or 2.5 magnitude (close in agreement with my prediction) I wasn't
expecting anything
unusual, just a good pass and the casual enjoyment of see an old friend
again, so I wasn't 
prepared and caught totally by surprise.  It flared to approximately  to
-1.0 to maybe -2.0
then back to around mag 2.0.  After perhaps 1.5 to 2.0 min. later it flared
again to the 
before mentioned value.  At culmination, it was 30deg. in elevation,
164.7deg. azimuth

The next night (4/19) while observing HST, it did not flare and remained
relatively steady at
mag. 2.0.  Its arrival was ~ 11 min later than the night before, as
predicted, with an elevation
of 38deg. and azimuth 170deg.

This is the first time I recall seeing HST flare so dramatically.  Was it
spinning on axis (it must have been)
and / or possibly maneuvering or what?

I would greatly appreciate any and all input!

Thanks for the patience in reading this verbose intro. -
next time I promise not to be so long winded <g>

Best Regards,



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Malvin (Mal)  Bishop, Jr.          

33.0819195N     80.8837905W      Elev.  50' ASL

e-mail:  abishop@lowcountry.com
ICQ:     32296418

To handle yourself, use your head,
To handle others use your heart.