evening viewing

Jeff Hunt (jeff@satellite.eu.org)
Sat, 10 Jan 98 19:44:41

Hello All,

I saw a similar flare from Iridium 30 this evening on Jan 10 at around 
22:38:20 UT as I'm only 60km or so south of Don Gardener. I was not aware 
of the prediction so I thought it was an unpredicted flare. I was looking 
in a northern direction when I realized something very bright was nearly 
overhead like the moon but the moon was much further to the SE. I only 
saw a few seconds of the flare but it certainly was bright!

While I was waiting for the next Iridium to come up from the south I saw 
another satellite pass close (within 1-2 degrees) to the south (below) 
Saturn in a west to east direction at 17:45:20 UT. It was slightly orange 
in color, moving slower than Mir and reminded me of a Lacrosse satellite, 
although not quite that orange. It was naked eye visible but with 
twilight still present (Sun -7deg.) I find it difficult to estimate 
brightness. Saturn is supposedly mag 0.7, but it didn't look that bright, 
yet it seem almost as bright as Saturn. Strange, the satellite slowly 
faded as it moved further east toward the moon supposedly slowly 
increasing in percentage of illumination. It was still too far from the 
moon for the moon glare to overpower the reflection of the satellite.

I tried to ID it with the molczan elset provided in the first week of 
January, but the closest I came was to OAO 2r/3598/68110B. The track and 
time look good, but the magnitude value given in the file is 5.0d so I 
doubt it was that satellite. Lacrosse 3 was supposedly in the area at 
that time, but not for that time period. A simulation of the track didn't 
match the satellite I saw.

Is it possible Lacrosse 3 has maneuvered? Of course the track I saw would 
be a significant change in orbital plane (lower) and that doesn't make 
any sense.

Jeff Hunt, Charlotte Hall, Md. USA 38.51N, 76.76W