Re: Landsat 4 Bright Pass

Tyler MacKenzie (
Tue, 10 Feb 1998 20:01:15 -0400 (AST)

>>Tonight Landsat  4 went to a -1 to -2 for about 10-15 seconds at
>>18:47:00-18:47:15 EST (23:47:00-23:47:00).  It did a pretty fair
>>imitation of the Mir for a few seconds.

>I had a similar observation whilst I was waiting for a pass of EGP. It 
>flared up to Mag 0 to -1 for about
>15 seconds before fading over a period of 5-10 seconds to Mag. +3 to +4
>as I followed in binoculars.

I had a very similar observation of Landsat 4 tonight. I was waiting to
view it with my telescope as it passed Gamma Ursa Majoris (practicing for 
the later pass of TiPS). About a minute early (22:52:30 UT), and well to
the celestial southwest something caught my eye. Understand: the periferal
blurry vision OUTSIDE the rim of my glasses shouldn't allow magnitude 5.7
sightings (especially 20 degrees from the full moon!) I estimate it peaked
at 0 to -2, wide because I was to dumbfounded to check it versus Sirius.
The time-course would be much as Jason describes above, and I too followed
it to about 4th magnitude, but through the finder scope on my cumbersome
10" reflector. Awesome. Question: is this an Iridium flare-like phenomenon
from its solar panels? if so, should anyone reasonably expect to see such
a flare on only 10 or 20 or more viewed passes?

Tyler (Joe Stats) MacKenzie
Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
44.636N 63.595W 50m ASL