Current Flasher--Superbird-A

From: Tom Wagner (
Date: Thu May 22 2003 - 01:49:53 EDT

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    Thanks for all those that helped me or offered to help with spotting a
    flashing geosync.
    For months I have wanted to get one flashing using my new digital video
    camera and now I am sure I can do that with Superbird-A. Using info that Ed
    Cannon just sent me (included below) I was able to easily locate it flashing
    last local PM beginning about 9:58 PM (02:58 UTC). I happened to notice two
    easy naked eye flashes even in light polluted skies w/o optical aid and with
    eyes that were not dark adapted! One eye was still recovering from the green
    screen of my night vision scope.
    I plan to keep an eye on that one night after night.
    I'm still up (12:42 AM) after watching two passes of the ISS so far. I
    videotaped them both. The first pass went through the bowl of Ursa Major and
    the second through Cassiopeia. Another pass is coming in less than an hour.
    I need a little shut-eye between passes so I'm off to the couch for a while.
    Tom  Iowa  USA
    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: "Ed Cannon" <>
    To: "Tom Wagner" <>
    Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2003 2:43 AM
    Subject: Re: Current Flasher
    Wednesday, May 21
    Hi Tom,
    Good to hear from you!  That's sort of a somewhat
    tricky question.
    I'm attaching a file with (presumably almost all of)
    the known flashing geosynchs, but the only one
    that's definitely flashing bright enough for 7x35s
    is Superbird A.  Using what Björn wrote the other
    > Result of removing this is for May 17  RA 15:47
    > For Ed that is declination -5.2 at UTC 02:53,
    > for Don [Gardner, in Maryland] -7.0 at 03:02 UTC
    From night to night it moves:
    > -0:03 +0.1 deg in pos/day [RA and Dec]
    > +0:01 in time [about one minute later per night]
    The best I can do is estimate that for May 22 UTC
    (Wednesday evening local time) for you the *center*
    of the roughly 6- to 8-minute bright flash episode
    should be between 2:58 and 3:07 UTC, probably closer
    to the earlier time.  So, you should start looking
    for it at about 2:54-55.  In the attached predictions,
    at 2:55 it is at RA 15:22.2, Dec. -6.2 (epoch 2000).
    The stars will move by it at .25 degree per minute.
    At that time the closest bright star is beta LIB
    (Zubeneshamali -- in ancient times one of the claws
    of Scorpius, according to something I read somewhere).
    The easiest way for you to get the elements I think
    is to use Tony Beresford's text file:
    It's not very big as it contains only known flashing
    geosynchs (and a handful of more or less related ones,
    e.g., ETS 6).
    The other ones in the attached predictions are known
    to flash but....   Björn says that right now TDF 1
    and TDF 2 are flashing before sunset for me.  Most of
    the others are just a guessing game, just randomly
    watching them from time to time to see if you might
    see them.  (Gorizonts tend to be more reliable and
    also easier because when flashing they flash for a
    long time each night, if not all night long.  But
    they aren't as bright as some of the others.)
    If you look with a telescope, you have a *MUCH*
    better chance of seeing more of them.  But you have
    to aim it at the right spot, of course.  It's best
    to use lower powers for as wide a field of view as
    possible.  It's easier that way to find the right
    spot, and if you're off a little, you can still find
    them in the FOV.
    10x50 binoculars would be significantly better than
    7x35 for this purpose, except for a smaller FOV.
    If you're used to using binocs with mount, you
    could of course go with more powerful binoculars
    and see a lot more.  I keep up with some mailing
    lists/discussion groups about binoculars for
    astronomy, and there are some good big ones (15x70,
    20x80, 25x100!) now for very reasonable prices -- 
    tempting me very much, though I'm a slow decider. has some 11x56s that might be
    handholdable.  One main thing about binoculars I've
    learned is for those of us using them with glasses
    on, having enough eye relief is *very* important.
    We had a great pass of ISS last night -- and it was
    almost completely clouded out in the 30 minutes or
    so before it came over.  What a disappointment.
    Well, that's about it at the moment.  Good luck!
    Ed C.
    At 10:04 PM 5/20/03 -0500, you wrote:
    >Will you do me a favor and provide me with flash times and the TLEs of any
    >geos that should currently be flashing up my way? I about 42.5 d N and -90
    >Also what mag. should I expect to see?
    >Thanks a million!
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