Re: Crew Dragon re-entry alert for Seattle Washingtonarea and southeast USA

From: Sean Sullivan via Seesat-l <seesat-l_at_satobs.org>
Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2019 09:00:52 -0500 (EST)
An observation report from western Montana:  I saw two objects in bright 
twilight, the fainter object leading ISS by about 15 degrees, both easily 
visible to the naked eye in the west to north.  (This is a qualitative 
description, no precise timings or measurements were taken, although I did 
try some video.)  Sky conditions were excellent, totally clear (despite 
predictions of clouds.)

As the phase angle decreased, the fainter object was lost to naked eye 
high in the northeast, but continued to be visible in binoculars.  Due to 
twilight, only a few stars were visible to the naked eye (limiting 
magnitude was likely 1 or 2), so "lost to naked eye" needs to be read in 
that context.

I scanned throughout for a third object (expecting both Dragon and trunk) 
with both eye and binoculars, but didn't locate it.  The best chance would 
have definitely been at the very beginning of the pass, when phase angle 
was optimal and foreshortening meant more efficient scanning of space. 
Looking for that third object distracted me from more careful attention to 
the appearance of the two observed objects.

I continued watching to low elevations in the east, on the chance that 
re-entry might be visible (expecting that was unlikely due to my western 
longitude.)  At a time when I could only still see one object, that object 
was unusually red/orange, so there is a slight chance of that being 
re-entry.  I looked at by watch, and it was 6:33:15 MT (entry interface is 
reported to be 6:33), but in doing so I lost track of the object and 
couldn't find it again.  As I would expect re-entry to be brightening from 
that time forward, and the object was clearly red/orange enough before 
6:33:15 to think about it, my judgment is that the red/orange object was 
probably ISS, but I'm really not sure.

I'm looking forward to reports from observers who spotted all three 
objects, to help identify whether the object I spotted was Dragon or the 
trunk.

Sean Sullivan
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Received on Fri Mar 08 2019 - 08:01:26 UTC

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