Re:Lunar "Eclipse" by a Satellite

grc@spica.usno.navy.mil
Wed, 27 Jan 99 09:47:09 -0500

Troy E. Hedgepeth wrote:

>Everyone,

Stuff deleted...

>I also got to watch a lovely pass of the Mir Complex.

I had a very nice pass of Mir as well from my home in Alexandria, VA.  I was out
watching it when, just after culmination in the northwest, my neighbior happened
to come down the street.  As usual, he said "What's up?" (pretty normal to see
me in the yard with my nose in the sky...)  I said "Mir, but it's behind those
trees."  He says "You mean that really bright thing over there?" pointing to the
northeast.  Sure enough, Mir was shooting a spectacular glint off a solar panel,
and was about mag -5 for better than 30 seconds.

We watched the mag -6.2 Iridium 28 flare about 5 minutes later...

>Finally, I received an offer in the mail to purchase "Burnham's Celestial
>Handbook" in 3 hard cover volumes for only $2.99 for joining the Astronomy
>Book Club.  Do any of you have this book/set?  Is it any good?  Would it
>suffice for a star atlas?

Burnham's is a fabulous resource despite its age (over 20 years now...) for
interesting facts, folklore, and descriptions of celestial objects.  I have a
very worn set that's been a backbone of my visual deep-sky observing since it
was first published.  I copied the tabular pages for each constellation and put
them in a loose-leaf binder for easier use at the eyepiece.  To my surprise I've
now observed just about everything north of Dec -20 degrees.

It is *not* a star atlas.  It is a great companion to the old Skalnate Pleso and
the more modern Sky Atlas 2000.0.  It iis still useful with the Uranometria
2000.0, but these charts go much deeper than Burnham's descritions.

Robert Burnham was a very interesting character who spent years living as a near
recluse at Lowell Observatory.  He passed away as a homeless man in San Diego in
1986.  A very interesting article on him appeared a few years ago in Astronomy
magazine.  These books are his legacy, superbly descriptive and full of the
author's genuine love for and humility in the presence of the night sky.  For
$2.99 it is a steal.  You'll have to buy several titles from the book club over
the years, but there's enough interesting stuff in there that is should be worth
your while.

Cheers,

Geoff 

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