First iridium flare?

From: Tony Beresford (
Date: Sat Mar 04 2000 - 21:54:36 PST

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    I just got this e-mail from a member of the local astronomical
    society Martin Lewicki ( Does this qualify as the
    earliest Iridium flare?. This report was less than 24 hours after the launch of the 2nd iridium cluster from Baikonur. I was able to find in my
    mail box for june 97, TLE's from OIG, postd by Vladimir agarapov,
    to confirm the satellite identity and using IRIDFLAR, that flares should
    have occurred. There were no references to Iridium flares
    in the June or July 97 output from Seesat. Due to a mixup, I
    lost the Aug97-dec97 e-mail archives. It also struck me that
    the VSOHP articles on Iridium flares dont have any story on what happened
    as Iridium sun glints were found. I thought it did but it may have been
    removed to give more explanetary material.
    Just went over my log book and found this entry you might help identify.
    Date: 19 June 1997
    Time: 18:10 CST
    Location: Queenstown South Australia 
    Latitude: 34s35
    Glancing toward the west in late twilight I spot three yellowish starlike
    points of light moving together at "satelite speed" in a perfect line south
    to north (roughly parallel to west horizon) altitude ~10 degrees. They were
    spread about five degrees apart from each other. The first two were about
    first magnitude while the last was comparable to Sirius which was about 10
    degrees above them as they travelled from azimuth ~245 -> ~260 (very rough
    estimate) After a few seconds they abruptly and simulataneuosly blinked out!
    There was no sound. At the time I though they most likely were military
    aircraft doing exercises with sychronized spotlights (but no plane sound?). 
    It occurred to me a year later that they may have been newly launched
    Iridium satelites. I understand that these satelites were launched in
    clusters and initially may have been strung out in orbit close to each other
    while their reflective panels were synchonistically rotated and aligned -
    hence the simulataneous blinkout.
    I could not find Iridium elements for the the above period on the Net to
    plug into IRIDFLAR so I could not check this out. 
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