Note on seeing Superbird A (89-071A)

From: Ed Cannon (
Date: Mon Jan 12 2004 - 04:39:16 EST

  • Next message: Peter Wakelin: "SATOBS 2004 January 11"

    In case anyone from Texas and west hasn't seen Superbird A 
    (89-071A, 20040) and might want to try, it's flashing near 
    Theta Ceti, a 3.6 magnitude star at RA 1h 23m 59s, Dec 
    -8.17 (2000) beginning about 3:50 UTC about a degree west 
    of the star.  The brightest flashes are brighter than the 
    star but are so quick that they're not easy to see without 
    binoculars.  The easiest way to spot it is to use low-power 
    (6x to 10x) binoculars with their good field of view, find 
    the position in the sky, and watch for 25 seconds.  At 
    first it flashes every 22.4 seconds, and then in the middle 
    of its event it flashes every 11.2 seconds.  Last night I
    watched it with my 8x42s from outside my apartment from 
    about 3:49 to 3:56 UTC (9:49-56 CST), and it was easy to 
    see for most of that time.  If I can rely on the elements 
    for several months, it will be visible from here again 
    around the end of May -- unless it's flashing before the 
    late-spring sky is dark enough.  One interesting thing 
    about flashing geosynchs is that they provide a "measure" 
    of the motion of the stars from east to west that is easy 
    to see over a few minutes.
    By the way, for a few more nights Superbird A may still be 
    visible from east of here on a good night, if you have a 
    low horizon view to the WSW.
    Ed Cannon - - Austin, Texas, USA
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