Brilliant ISS pass

From: Robert Holdsworth (
Date: Wed Nov 15 2006 - 12:46:23 EST

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    Last night our time was my first opportunity to see a descending node pass 
    of the ISS other than the one reported earlier when seen with the shuttle in 
    close proximity.  Most of our available passes till now have been ascending 
    node, but cloud and/or inconvenient times have prevented observation other 
    than the one also reported when a meteor was seen.
    Until now I had been reading the reports in Heavens Above of very high mags 
    and visibility through clouds with a little surprise.
    However at 0800 UTC on a patchy sky just at twilight the ISS emerged from 
    the clouds  just about at its maximum elevation and was as bright as some of 
    the best Iridium flares.  It certainly reached mag -4 or so, I hesitate to 
    say -6 but it is possible it was that good. It was almost steady magnitude 
    and decreased gradually, no flaring observed, just the slightest flicker for 
    all of the pass,  but as the first half of the pass was obscured by cloud it 
    is not known whether any flaring could have occurred.
    With mags already this good and further additions to the station to come the 
    predictions of daylight visibility may not be too far off the mark, 
    certainly dusk or dawn ones will be spectacular.
    The orange coloration was visible just after it emerged from the cloud but 
    then for the rest of the pass it appeared more white.
    Robert Holdsworth
    New Zealand
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