Re: iridium flare 8/13 by chance

From: Kevin Fetter (
Date: Tue Aug 13 2002 - 09:49:29 EDT

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    Last night I showed to iridium flares to a large group of people during the 
    annual star party at a local provincial park. The fist was a nice bright -5 
    one, the crowd really enjoyed that one:)
    The ? means not at operational altitude, attitude may not be reliable.
    If the attitude of the satellite is off, then the predictions will be off. 
    Think of attitude as the way the satellite is pointed. If the mean mission 
    antenna's which cause the flares are pointed off from the angles that the 
    program uses to calculate the brightness of the flare
    then the flare won't be as bright as if the antenna is at the correct 
    angles. It's possible even for iridium satellites listed as operational , do 
    be off in the attitude, so the observed magnitude is fainter the predicted 
    maghnitude. I have seen that twice alreay with two different one's. Then 
    there is one, that I didn't even see flare.  If the satellite had been at 
    the right attitude at the time, it would have been a nice -8 flare. But it 
    attitude was off, so no flare :(
    The operational ones have a mean motion of close to 14.3421
    Rob's program will compute flares from non operational orbit one's, not like 
    heavens above it appears. So use rob's program, and wait. If the satellite 
    has a good attitude, the you never know until you see the flare, or someone 
    else has reported seeing one from the non operational oribt one's.
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