Observations, Early Morning 13 July [UT]

From: Jonathan T Wojack (tlj18@juno.com)
Date: Fri Jul 12 2002 - 23:29:52 EDT

  • Next message: Steve Newcomb: "Iridium 37"

    I failed to see Feng Yun 1D Rk (27432).  It was a low-altitude pass, so
    perhaps that explains why.
    This time, I was able to see the USA 160 C, A duo (in order of flight) ! 
    They were predicted to be at magnitude +5.6, but it was more like +3 or
    +4 when I sighted them almost directly overhead.  Their TLE's predict
    that they are slightly less than 7 seconds apart.  I was one of the most
    amazing things I have ever seen.  Since I was able to get both satellites
    quite easily into one field, and they both move in the exact same
    direction, it is disorienting at first.  As they moved north, I thought
    that they were the fixed stars, and that they were really moving south (I
    knew something was moving, but it took a couple of seconds to identify
    what was moving).  I shifted my binoculars south, but no objects
    followed.  I moved north, and there they were, in all their glory.  I was
    about to time the distance, when I heard what sounded like an angry bee
    buzzing near my ear.  Considering I was stung by an agitated bee twice
    only three days ago, I did not waste any time in putting the binoculars
    down, and taking a few steps into the grass.  Unfortunately, I was unable
    to find the satellites again, which were invisble to my truly naked eyes
    (i.e., no glasses).  They are a really great pair to see.  Seeing two
    satellites at once is 10x better than seeing two satellites separately. 
    Those who have seen the ISS and the Space Shuttle Orbiter in the same
    glance can identify with this.
    Speaking of the Space Shuttle, the fleet has been grounded until at least
    September.  NASA says that the order of flights will not be affected - at
    least, not yet.
    Jonathan T. Wojack             tlj18@juno.com
    39.706d N   75.683d W   4 hours behind UT (-4)
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