a mailing list for shuttle elsets, Mir dim

Walter Nissen (dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Sat, 4 Feb 1995 17:28:58 -0500

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I do not regularly post the regional indications of visibility which I
produce, but this one (for Washington, DC) contains an OBS of sorts and I
thought some of you might want to see an example of such an indication of
visibility, however atypical it may be.




Sunday morning, February 5th, weather permitting, sky watchers will have
an opportunity to see the space station Mir as it flies north of the
National Capital area and the Space Shuttle Discovery which is pursuing
Mir.  They should be easily seen from urban locations using just
binoculars or even the naked eye.  The space station will rise in the NNW
emerging from the Earth's shadow about 5:53 am EST when it will be 15
degrees above 342 degrees azimuth.  (My best current estimate is 10:54:30
UTC; but don't be late).  Moving to the right, 18 seconds later it will
pass between alpha and beta Camelopardalis.  36 seconds later it will be
due North, 21 degrees up.  56 seconds later it will culminate 24 degrees
over 27.  11 seconds later it will pass very near the very famous delta
Cephei.  39 seconds later it will be about 6 degrees below Deneb in the
Summer Triangle and 22 degrees over 52.  By 5:57 it will be disappearing
in the ENE.  It is not possible to give exact times of the passage, but
there is a good chance that these times are within just a very few minutes
of the actual fly over.

The space station, Mir, will appear as a bright moving point, perhaps
similar in appearance to a distant airliner.

Mir is quite reliably bright.  Normally, I would expect Mir to near
magnitude 0 at culmination, but on Friday morning when an apparent
meteorolgical malfunction cleared the sky here on the North coast, it was
a mag and a half fainter than delta Cephei; (an expert in morning
intelligence will explain why an experienced observer would use delta as
a comparison star).  I guess it was at a very unfavorable phase angle.  It
is hard to guess about Sunday, but I will be interested to hear reports.

The Discovery will very likely follow a very similar path, a few minutes
behind Mir.

There is a better pass on Monday and I will certainly try to distribute an
indication of visibility.  It looks like Mir will pass directly thru the
zenith at 6:36 going NW to SE while the sky is still not too bright.

Credit is due to the Goddard Space Flight Center of NASA for supplying
data used in producing these indications of visibility.

Binoculars are a much better choice than a telescope for scanning the sky
looking for the space station, although neither necessary nor desirable,
unless a light haze is present.  Anybody who'd like to try the advanced
level task of acquiring (and following!) the station in a telescope,
should call me for details.  If you succeed, you may be able to discern
the structure of the station, and distinguish its modules.

Walter I. Nissen, Jr., CDP        216-243-4980 (24 hr)