observations

From: Thomas A. Troszak (tom@bullhammer.com)
Date: Thu May 11 2000 - 21:47:02 PDT

  • Next message: chiayk@pop.singnet.com.sg: "Re: iridium corridor>observations"

    Unusually busy night, NIMBOSTRATUS 1 has broken up finally...
    
    UNID sat, mag.0, seen at approx 30 NNE headed N at approx.21:40:00 EDT,
    entered shadow at approx 21:42:00 EDT at 15N, bright but very slow,
    cannot find match.
    
    UNID flare at 21:43:10 EDT at approx 70E headed SSE, mag. 0 
    
    Cosmos 405 Rocket passed just below Arcturus at 22:04:10 EDT, moving
    very fast, or my imagination?
    
    at 22:20:40 EDT two sats passed each other at approx 25-30 ESE one
    headed N and one headed SSE, cannot find a match for either...any clues?
    
    Observed a very bright mag. -3 to -5 flare at approx 36 ENE for about 4
    seconds at approx 22:35:00  Heavens-Above shows IRIDIUM 59 predicted to
    flare at 22:34:41 at 38 ENE, obviously a good match but my time is not
    accurate enough to say it was late because at the moment the flare
    appeared I was hugging a dear friend goodbye and suddenly shouted "WOW,
    look at that!" in her left ear. Sharon (my friend), now slightly
    deafened, turned in time to see it also and agreed that it was very
    bright...fortunately she is used to this type of behavior... 
    
    What is unusual for me is that with Iridium flares we usually seem to
    get all or nothing, that is if you are within 1 km of the predicted
    path, whammo, big flare - right on time; more than 1 km off the track,
    nada, zip, zilch. After many a wild goose chase I basically gave up on
    looking for flares unless I was withi 2 km of the predicted path.
    
    Looking after the fact, This time we were predicted to be 19 km off the
    track, with a mag. -4 flare, and there it was, right at mag. -4. This
    would be the first time I have seen a perfect "partial" Iridium flare
    just as predicted by heavens-above.com.
    
    So the question is:What is the normal "corridor of visibility" for the
    Iridium flares as seen by others? My experience indicated that one would
    need to be within  + or - 1 km of the predicted track, or not woth
    bothering...until tonight. Have I missed a zillion "partial" flares?
    
    Tom Troszak
    Asheville, NC USA
    35.601 N, -82.504W
    
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