Chance to see Stardust spacecraft tomorrow night

From: Derek C Breit (
Date: Tue Jan 13 2009 - 05:34:46 UTC

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    Please let me know of any successful observations..
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Dr David Dunham
    Sent: Monday, January 12, 2009 9:02 PM
    Subject: Chance to see Stardust spacecraft tomorrow night
    The Stardust spacecraft, rushing towards the Earth for a
    gravity assist that will send the comet explorer to
    Comet Tempel 1, might be observed by Northern-Hemisphere
    observers tomorrow night as it approaches the Earth from
    Auriga with a favorable 30-deg. phase angle. In eastern
    North America, the best view will be shortly before
    sunrise Wed. morning, Jan. 14, at about 11h UT, when
    the distance will be 220,000 km. Observers farther west
    will have a better view, especially those in Hawaii and
    the western Pacific Ocean, where the spacecraft will be
    much closer. The closest approach will be on Jan. 14
    between 19h and 20h UT.
    After the closest approach, the spacecraft will be moving
    far south, in Triangulum Australis and Circinus; it will
    be seen best then from Australia in the early morning of
    Jan. 15 local time (Jan. 14, 20+h UT), but the phase
    angle will be poor, about 120 deg., and the elongation
    from the Sun about 65 deg.
    Detailed local predictions can be computed from JPL's
    interactive "Horizons ephemeris generator" Web site at .
    Robert Farquhar and I first discovered this opportunity
    to re-use Stardust a few years ago, and we are on the
    Stardust NExT team, although others at JPL are now
    calculating details of the small maneuvers needed to
    keep Stardust targeted first for this Earth gravity
    assist, and then later to Comet Tempel 1.
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