My last obs. of USA 144 Titan R

Alexander Seidel (ase@privat.isp-net.de)
Mon, 31 May 1999 23:37:06 +0200

A few minutes ago, at UTC 20:42 (May 31) I made my definitely final
observation of the decaying USA 144 Titan rocket stage, using this elset
provided by SatEvo from Alan Pickup:

USA 144 Titan 4 r                                183 x 155 km
1 25745U 99028  B 99151.84186513  .08028400  47388-1  56027-3 0 90000
2 25745  63.3387  66.0725 0021376 179.2437 180.7594 16.38808338   241

The sat was timed to be 32.6 (+/- 0.5) sec late relative to this elset.

What a sight! I picked it up in 7x35 binocs low in the local W, and it
culminated at UTC 22:41:44 in the SW, 34 deg above horizon. At this
time, it was only 171 or 172 km above ground, had a range of 300 km, and
was an easy naked-eye-object of mag -1 steady, moving very fast and
heading towards Mars, which it "missed" by only 0.3 deg, as seen from my
site.

I was very lucky with the observing conditions for this decayer: clear
skies, with the sun 7.15 deg below the local horizon at the time of
observation. Never in my long career as an observer (30 yrs) have I seen
a satellite that low over the ground, and I believe this could only be
topped by happily observing an actual decay.. :-)

Here is a position for any orbital analysis purposes (site coordinates
are in my sig): UTC 20:42:11.2 (+/-0.3 sec), RA 13h 31.75m, Dec -9d
32.4m (Epoch 2000). 

Good luck, Jari, for may be a final observation from Canada!

Alex
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