Mir last night

From: chester.geoff@usno.navy.mil
Date: Thu Mar 09 2000 - 08:21:19 PST

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    Greetings, all...
    Just wanted to share a quick report on sighting Mir through my 8-inch
    Dobsonian last night.  I was able to track it for most of its 71 degree
    elevation pass last evening between 0022 and 0025 from my front yard in
    Alexandria.  I'd spent the previous 10 minutes in a fruitless attempt to
    spot Raduga 33 among the stars of Lepus, and decided to take a break and
    look for something I *knew* I could see.
    I was able to acquire Mir when it passed near Saturn, and followed it until
    I lost it in Earth's shadow.  For the 30 seconds or so bracketing
    culmination, there was a definite structure visible at 46X, resembling the
    letter "H", with the middle bar much thicker than the serifs and oriented in
    the direction of travel.  It was pretty cool to watch the stars whizzing by
    behind it.  I really got the impression of travel at 28,000 kmph!  The color
    was a brilliant yellowish gold.  There was no "flicker" or "sparkle", which
    I often note with the naked eye.  Perhaps the best part was tracking it into
    the shadow.  The color rapidly deepened in hue, first to a rich gold, then
    orange, then a deep red, similar to the color of the Moon during the recent
    eclipse.  Then, before I knew it, Mir was gone!
    Well, I never did find Raduga 33, but the efforet was still well worth it.
    Besides, stargazing in early March with a 22-degree C air temperature in
    Northern Virginia is kinda nice!
    | Geoff Chester   grc@usno.navy.mil  Public  Affairs Office |
    | http://www.usno.navy.mil             US Naval Observatory |
    | (202) 762-1438              3450 Massachusetts Avenue, NW |
    | (202) 762-1489 (FAX)                Washington, DC  20392 |
    | "Each passing hour brings the Solar System 43,000 miles   |
    | closer to the globular cluster M13 in Hercules; yet there |
    | are still some misfits who insist there's no such thing   |
    | as progress!"     --    Ransom K. Fern                    |
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