Unusual NOSS 4(E) pass, +2 mag

From: Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Date: Wed Jun 18 2003 - 05:34:53 EDT

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    Mike was watching NOSS 4(E) (13844, 83-008E) with his 
    telescope (or maybe the 12x80 finder?) and said the 
    satellite was getting brighter and brighter.  I looked 
    up toward the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), and the 
    satellite was about +2 magnitude, near the handle, 
    which it went through.  I didn't note the time well, 
    but I think it was around 3:31-32 June 18 UTC.
    I was able fairly easily to see the USA 136 Centaur 
    97-068B (25035).  It's beginning some pretty good 
    passes over this part of the world.  Mike said it was 
    close to on-time on the elements currently in the 
    mccants.tle file.  So this is a good chance to see a 
    rapidly tumbling Centaur in a highly eccentric orbit.
    Near June solstice for a few seasons now I've noticed 
    unusually bright (often easily visible without 
    binoculars) northbound evening passes in the NW by 
    sunsynch objects, especially the earth-observing type 
    (SPOT 4 and 5, CBERS 1, Envisat of course, Landsats, 
    IRS, etc.).  I assume that it's very latitude 
    dependent, but it seems like it could be predictable.  
    What hypotheses are there about what surfaces are 
    giving these neat specular reflections?
    Superbird A (89-041A, 20040) is now west of our 
    meridian and flashing nicely, roughly about 3:26-32 
    UTC here last night.  Conditions haven't been good
    enough yet this week to make a good try to see the 
    flashes without magnification.
    I saw several unid crossers last night and just wish
    there was more time and that I weren't so tired.  But
    none of them was that 2.5-second bright flashing one
    from last week.
    Now I see Tony's reply (Thanks, Tony!) that Nozomi 
    (Planet-B) is on the NASA Horizons site:
    I think that it looks like we might have a chance in 
    maybe a half-hour window during the closest approach 
    at about 3:00-4:00 June 19 UTC (if I'm reading it 
    correctly).  I wonder how big a telescope would be 
    needed to see it at a range of about 15,000 km (if 
    that's right for .0001 AU).  It's not very big.  I
    was sorry to read that it's been beset by some problems,
    and of course I hope that it can complete its mission
    with at least a good measure of success.
    Ed Cannon - ecannon@mail.utexas.edu - Austin, Texas, USA
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