Tips observed

Jeff Hunt (
Tue, 20 Aug 96 05:58:26 PDT

I observed Tips this morning Aug 20, 1996 (for the first time).  Using 7x50 
binoculars, I finally picked it up in the SSE heading slowly toward the NE.  
I was using the binocs entirely for fear of losing it so my view was limited 
to approximately 7 deg. I didn't time it until it intercepted the first 
resonably bright star (expected to be Alph Tau (Aldebaran) at 08:39:45 UT, Ra 
4h 36m, Dec 16 deg. 30m).

Interception came at 08:39:40 UT but unfortunately at this point I'm not 
certain if it was Alpha Tal or Beta Tal.  The two stars show definitely 
different colors but my recollection is that the intercepted star was the 
color of Beta Tau (white). 

If the interception was Alpha Tau, (slightly orange and at Ra 5h 26m, Dec 28 
deg 36m), then the prediction was only off by approximately 5 seconds as 
given by the elements in the 30 day old epoch noted below.  If the 
interception was Beta Tal then the prediction was off by over a minute.  I 
suspect it was Alpha Tal so that the prediction was nearly on time based on 
the epoch given below.  I was unable to aquire Tips again after looking at my 
watch due to the increasing phase angle.   

My program (SatSpy) showed TiPS to be only 40% illuminated at its 
interception with Alpha Tau.  I would estimate the TiPS tether at Mag 7 or 8 
as averted vision made it easier to view.  The straight tether was nearly 
vertical, the top end tilted 10 deg. to the left.  I could not discern Ralph 
or Norton.

I hope additional observation reports will show that the elements for the 
below 30 day old epoch are still reasonably accurate.  A very interesting 
object to see.  Sorry for not being absolutely certain what star it 
intercepted. Another reason to have a stopwatch.
Jeff Hunt, Charlotte Hall, Md.  38.51N, 76.76W