Iridium 5 no-show

Craig Cholar (3432P@VM1.CC.NPS.NAVY.MIL)
Sun, 03 May 98 21:44:01 PDT

The Iridium prediction programs and the GSOC website predicted two flares
near mag -8 for my location, within 30 seconds of each other,  at approx.
04:31 05/04 UT, for Iridium 5 (24795) and Iridium 34 (24969).  According
to Iridflar 1.61 I was two miles west of one centerline, and two miles
east of the other.  Wow, this is going to be great, I thought, until I
looked out the window and noticed there weren't any stars out.  Grumble.
I did see the moon just past 1st quarter through the clouds, so I headed
outside and got a little wet from a light drizzle as I waited.  I initially
thought that satellite watching in a drizzle is crazy, but I reminded myself
that I've seen Iridiums through clouds before.  I'll admit that these
conditions were probably 'pushing the envelope' a bit, though.

My optimism was rewarded.  One of the Iridiums put on a dazzling display,
seemingly 'burning' a hole through the clouds.  I waited for the second
flare to arrive, but I didn't see it at all.  I believe the one I saw
was Iridium 34, based on the time.  Afterward, I checked the MM for
Iridium 5 and noted it was 14.36, not 14.34, so in retrospect I shouldn't
have expected it to flare to -8, but when you see Iridflar, Skysat,
Skymap and GSOC all predict it to produce a really nice flare you kind of
get your hopes up.

I'm not saying Iridium 5 didn't flare at all; anything less than a
-4 flare probably wouldn't have been seen through the clouds.  It
definitely didn't produce an exceptional flare, though.

 Craig Cholar    3432P@VM1.CC.NPS.NAVY.MIL
 Marina, California
 36 41 10.3N,  121 48 17.9W    (36.6862, -121.8050)      UTC -7