Re: Time to see Superbird A

From: Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Date: Tue Dec 03 2002 - 00:21:37 EST

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    This experiment may get me in over my head, but anyway ... 
    because it's fun to see and I want to encourage/help 
    others to see it, I've put online Highfly predictions for 
    Superbird A for the next two weeks for Austin and San 
    Antonio, Texas.  They are at 4-minute (one-degree) steps 
    for the hour or so, in universal time, around the current 
    flash event.  As I mentioned previously, I can't provide 
    the exact time for the bright flash event, but it's 
    currently roughly five minutes around 3:30-40 UTC, plus 
    or minus several minutes depending on your location -- 
    and 60 to 90 seconds later from night to night.  
    
    The event goes kind of like this -- a few flashes, getting 
    brighter, every 22.6 seconds; appearance of a second flash 
    at 11.3 seconds; both flashes, possibly brighter than +3, 
    every 11.3 seconds for two or three minutes; first flash 
    growing fainter and disappearing; last two or three 
    flashes separated by 22.6 seconds until you can't see it.  
    Again with a few tips:
    
    1. Use a low-power, wide-angle instrument, e.g., 7x35 or 
    7x50 or 10x50 binoculars.  (If the instrument is mounted, 
    it will be less tiring.)
    
    2. Select a recognizable, findable asterism very near the 
    position of Superbird A at the estimated flashing event 
    time, as a place to watch for the flashes to appear.
    
    3. Look for 25 to 30 seconds out of every minute until you 
    see a flash -- then pay closer attention!  If the first 
    one you see is faint, they should get brighter -- unless 
    you started looking several minutes too late.
    
    4. If you use a telescope, you have to be sure that it is 
    pointed at exactly the right place at the right time.
    
    5. One-power/naked-eye observing -- the flashes are bright 
    but are so fast that they can be hard to see if the sky is 
    not pretty dark.
    
    6. If you see something else (not an airplane) flashing in 
    the same field of view -- TELL US!  
    
    The two prediction files (plain text) are:
    
    Austin -- http://wwwvms.utexas.edu/~ecannon/sbird-au.txt
    
    San Antonio -- http://wwwvms.utexas.edu/~ecannon/sbird-sa.txt
    
    Highfly is a freeware DOS program by Mike McCants and is 
    available for download on this page:
    
    http://users2.ev1.net/~mmccants/programs/index.html
    
    Any thoughts from others who've watched it?
    
    Ed Cannon - ecannon@mail.utexas.edu - Austin, Texas, USA
    
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