String of Pearls Iridium Flares

Ron Lee (
Thu, 19 Feb 1998 06:00:18 -0700

Wow, what an amazing site!    Last night I ran my Iridium
elset to see if I had a good pass this morning...yes I did.

I woke up a bit early to see if REAL elsets were available
and they were. I reran Skymap and they were off after 23 hours.
Good thing I checked.   Then I had a Iridflar
and guess what?   They were supposed to flare!!!!  I might see
5, yes 5, iridium flares at the same time.

Oh my. need to photograph it.  Where is the camera, film, tripod
and cable release...only 10 minutes to go.   I find everything,
load the filmand go out.  The flare is about 10 degrees away from
the moon so I set up the tripod behind a tree.

Everything is set so I look up and try to find the stars..oh geez
which ones are they...check the map again.  ok, that far away from
Vega..look, look, look.. there is a rapidly rotating object, about
twice per second.  Must be the rocket body.

Still not sure I am looking in the right place so scan and there are
TWO!  Look some more.  The first three are equally spaced then a wider
separation and two more.  OK, that is nice.  Follow them a bit in the
binoculars.  Reach down in my pocket for my glasses.

I am soon as one starts to flare, put my glasses on and
watch visually.    Then they start to brighten a bit...I put my glasses
on and they increase bye one until there is a string of pearls
of lights across the sky just like Comet Levy-Shoemaker.  It was
beautiful.  The middle one was a magnitude or two brighter than the others

And I may have gotten it on film if I did not get the tree in the way.

Thanks Rob (the Skymap dude and Iridflar dude)

Ron Lee

PS the obs of the flares was about 12:44:xx ut on 19 feb 98 from Falcon,
CO  (38.9478, -104.5614, 2073 m)