Re: Starshine Seen (also STS-96, ISS)

DJLaszlo@aol.com
Sat, 5 Jun 1999 11:45:33 EDT

In a message dated 6/5/99 4:15:24 AM Mountain Daylight Time, 
ronlee@pcisys.net writes:
 
 I also caught this trio at 09:57 UT on 5 Jun. STS was noticed first, being
 perhaps -4 magnitude.  Starshine was observed leading in the same field of 
 view of my 7x50 binocs...very faint. I did not notice any flaring but did not
 watch it continuously.  ISS followed...much fainter but that should change
 if they really add everything to it. Should have photographed this passage.
  >>

I also saw this pass, which went about 10 degrees south of the zenith for 
Fort Collins.  My impression initially was the same as Ron's, a faint, 
magnitude 7 or so Starshine leading brilliant STS-96 by about 5 to 6 degrees 
in 8x44 binoculars as it rose from Ophiuchus.  I had seen no flashes at that 
part of the pass, and was concerned I was just seeing a ghost image of the 
very bright STS-96.  The faint image faded as the shuttle did on passing 
Cygnus by the zenith, and I never saw a flash coincident with the faint 
image.  So I have some doubts about what I personally saw then.  Flashes, 
magnitude 2 to 3 were seen leading STS-96 after I lost the faint image.   
Timing was quite irregular, 1 to 3 a minute initially.  As Starshine sank in 
the East, the flash period decreased as expected, and as it went below 30 
degrees elevation, several flashes were seen within 30 seconds.  It had faded 
below 5th magnitude by then.  I would agree with Ed Light, not as flashy as 
EGP (by a long shot), and I think it will be a trial for novices to attempt 
satellite geodesy with a target which blinks so seldom and erratically when 
it's high overhead.  Between flashes it is faint at best, and perhaps was 
invisible to me the whole pass.  

Dan Laszlo
djlaszlo@aol.com