Comet + Flare

From: Tom Wagner (sciteach@mchsi.com)
Date: Tue Mar 12 2002 - 03:09:36 EST

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    My son and I ran out to see comet Ikeya-Zhang tonight. It was barely visible
    w/o binocs but really nice with my 7x35s. As a bonus to seeing the comet, my
    son Ben was looking high in the north at 7:32 PM CST when he spotted a very
    bright object. Rapidly thinking through all the possibilities of what it
    might be then seeing it fade he came to a conclusion and exclaimed, "I just
    saw a flare!" [At first I thought he was talking pyrotechnics.] He clarified
    his exclamation by telling me to look at
    the then faint iridium satellite.
    
    When I got home I looked up the coordinates of that exact country location
    using MapBlast and plugged them into Heavens-Above. That allowed me to see
    how bright it was. Indeed it had a magnitude of -8. He had spotted the
    brightest portion of a flare that we didn't know was going to occur. NUTS! I
    missed it!  It is very rare to see one that bright by accident.
    
    Tom W.
    Iowa
    USA
    
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