Molniya 3-53 Rk, etc. (very pretty night)

From: Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Date: Tue Jul 15 2003 - 05:12:01 EDT

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    Last night Mike called to alert me to a good though twilight
    pass of the Molniya 3-53 Rk (27835, 03-029B).  I saw it but
    failed to get out the door with my stopwatch to time it.  It 
    seemed to me the brightest maximum was almost as bright as 
    Arcturus.  The tumble period seemed to be about 10-15 
    seconds.  I was able to follow it for about a minute with my 
    10x50 binoculars.
    
    IRS P2 (94-068A, 23323) did one of its best passes.  The
    first flash I saw was extremely bright, seemed like -6, if 
    that's possible.
    
    As I was doing predictions it didn't dawn on me that Hubble
    and Okean-O Rk (25861, 99-039B) would both have very good 
    passes at the same time.  Both were very easy one-power 
    objects for maybe a couple of minutes and could be seen at 
    the same time with peripheral vision by looking between 
    them.  Also visible without magnification with HST was a 
    GPS Rk (20362, 89-097B).  I also saw two other GPS Rk 
    without the binoculars:  20303/89-085B and 20453/90-008B.
    
    Lacrosse 3 and some maxima from Intelsat 501 Rk (12497, 
    81-050B) were visible without magnification at the same 
    time.
    
    NOSS 2-3 were different; outlier was still the brightest,
    and it and the trailer were visible without binoculars, but
    the leader was significantly fainter and only visible with
    binoculars, throughout all of the pass that I saw.  (I 
    didn't see them before culmination due to the exciting pass 
    of IRS P2.)
    
    Envisat (27386, 02-009A) was a fourth equally bright "star" 
    in the handle of the Big Dipper (UMA bear's tail, I think).
    
    I easily saw 17 objects without binoculars and three others
    with some difficulty.  All but the Molniya 3-53 Rk were 
    from the E. Ney Museum grounds, 30.307N, 97.727W, 150m.  The 
    sky was very clear, but there is a pretty fair likelihood of 
    tropical storm "Claudette" clouds by Tuesday night.
    
    Ed Cannon - ecannon@mail.utexas.edu - Austin, Texas, USA
    
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