Re: Contour observed

Date: Sat Aug 10 2002 - 03:43:12 EDT

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    In a message dated 8/9/2002 23:54:15, writes:
    >I watched Contour from 4:44 UT until about 5:15.  At first, it was fairly
    >easy in a 4 inch refractor (5600 km), but eventually I just couldn't see
    >it (14,000+ km).  It was quite interesting to watch the change in speed
    >and brightness, one could sense the
    >tremendous climb it was making.
    Hi everyone
    I also got a nice view, using a 4.7" refractor, despite some thin cirrus 
    clouds observing from San Francisco. I used the JPL Horizons systems for the 
    pass prediction, since I wasn't sure how well normal satellite tracking 
    software would handle such an eccentric orbit.
    I aquired Contour at 04:47UT (~6000km range), on time and exactly on the 
    predicted track. It was steady at around mag +8.5 but faded as it got further 
    away. The angular velocity of the spacecraft decreased noticible over the 
    following few minutes. I managed to follow it until 05:07UT (range ~12,000km) 
    by which time it had faded to perhaps mag+11. The brightness varied, notic
    ibly once it got fainter with a couple of brief brightenings. Also at one 
    point it seemed like there was some low amplitude rapid pulses, but that 
    could have been an artifact of seeing or the high cloud. 
    This has to be the most eccentric orbit satellite that I have observed so 
    far, we were very lucky to have good pass geometry to observe it at close 
    range. I hope some of the earth flybys this spacecraft will make during its 
    mission will be as easy to observe....
    Best wishes and clear skies,
    Jason Hatton
    San Francisco, CA (37.77N, 122.42W)
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