Flaring Geosats at shadow exit !!!

Daniel Deak (dan.deak@sympatico.ca)
Fri, 08 Oct 1999 01:29:34 -0400

Hi all,

      On the evening of Oct. 7, local time, from 21:05 to 22:00 EDT
( 01:05 to 02:00 UTC on Oct. 8), I looked for the flaring geosats
using my 20x80 binoculars. The sky was clear and the temperature
very cold (-7 C or 20 F).Unfortunately, the portion of the sky where
it was to happen was directly over the light pollution of a nearby city.
Moreover, one of my neighbour on a farm decided at the same time
to make a huge fire. The smoke obstructed my view almost completely
for some times.

      Despite these problems, I managed to clearly see 3 flaring sats. All
the IDs below are not 100% sure. Times are UTC.

#23319 = 94-067A = Express 1 was seen starting at 01:10:50 for 3 min.
Max mag. was around +7. I did not notice how it appeared but saw it fade
slowly. Position : RA 01h43.5m,  dec. -6.6 deg at 01:13:00

#21047 = 91-001A = NATO 4A flared for about 45 seconds to a max
of +5 or +6 starting at about 01:24:50.
Position then was RA 01h41m,  dec. -7.1 deg

#24957 = 97-053A = INTELSAT 803 was seen starting at 01:40 and
soon reached a mag of +4. This sat stayed visible for an amazingly long
time. In fact, when my session ended because I was frozen at 02:02, it
was still visible but had faded to a mag of +7.5. It's fun to see a sat move
so slowly among the stars.
Position : RA 01h44m,  dec. -6.6 deg at 01:42:20

At 01:29 I saw 3 quick flashes (0.1 sec each in under 1 sec) but spanned
on a north-south line about 1/4 degree long. Optical illusion ??? It really
had the appearance of a satellite flare with its golden color. I've not identified
what it was. Mag was around 6.

      It took me about half an hour to find the exact spot in the sky. But all the
flares seen started in a zone about 3/4 degree wide centered on RA 01h41m
and decl. -6.8 deg. Azimuth for the observations moved from 112 to 120 deg
and altitude from 11.7 to 17.5 deg.

       Just before sending this report, I checked my obs again and realized that I
saw the shadow exit and not the entry. That explains why 24957 was visible
for so long after acquisition and why the area where they appeared was narrow.
So shadow exit are visible in the EVENING also !

      Best wishes !


Daniel Deak
St-Bonaventure, Québec

COSPAR site 1745 : 45.9483°N, 72.6539°W, 58 m., UTC-4:00

E-mail : dan.deak@sympatico.ca
Site en francais sur les satellites:
French-language satellite web site : http://www3.sympatico.ca/dan.deak/

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