More STS-88/ISS exitement

Willie Koorts (
Sun, 13 Dec 1998 23:19:38 +0200 (GMT+0200)

After the massive water dump of the other night, I did not think anything
else from the STS-88/ISS mission could suprise and all subsequent passes -
mostly about 0 mag. - seemed boring in comparason!  I always new that
tonight's pass should be nice, but was worried that it would still be too
bright, hoping for a repeat water dump, I suppose. 

The (excellent) DLR/GSOC website's prediction looked as follows:

 Date     Mag.         Starts           Max. Elevation          Ends
                   Time    El. Az.      Time    El. Az.    Time     El. Az.

13 Dec    0.4    20:23:05  10  SW     20:26:18  87  W     20:28:58  14  NE

This was virtually an overhead pass from horizon to horizon during twilight. 

I am hopeless with magnitude comparisons but still thought of doing a rough
estimate with the bright objects out there, just for the fun.  As the pass
progressed my respect for it increased as it first started to become
comparable with Sirius, then with Saturn and when getting close to shadow
entry, I could swear it was trying to outshine Jupiter!  For a second
opinion, I immediately phoned up to the domes (I have converted almost all
the astronomers to satellite observers by now) and got the same perception! 

Just a pity the seperation burn will be after this - I am hoping to see
'double' tomorrow night with not such good conditions - only a 14 degree
pass but at least in the NW.

                        Willie Koorts   

       Cape Town,  Observatory   33d 56' 03"S   18d 28' 36"E   GMT + 2h
       Wellington, South Africa  33d 38' 56"S   19d 00' 52"E   GMT + 2h

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