RE: Introduction and 3-satellite formation

From: Ted Molczan (molczan@rogers.com)
Date: Mon Oct 21 2002 - 20:54:42 EDT

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    Lance Pickup requested assistance in confirming a suspected NOSS triad sighting: 
    
    > about a month ago (it's been a long 
    > search :-) as I was camping with some friends, we were out on 
    > Ricker Pond, VT in a canoe admiring a very nice northern 
    > lights display when my friend (even more of an amateur than 
    > me) pointed out a formation of three sats flying almost 
    > directly overhead, travelling from north to south.  I was 
    > astounded as I had never 
    > seen such a thing.
    
    > In case anyone is curious, my approximate location was at Lat: 44.233
    > Long: -72.233 and the local time was approximately 22:10 
    > Eastern Daylight Time on 9/14/02 (my watch was not 
    > synchronized with anything).
    
    Lance, found that none of the 2nd generation NOSS triads matched the obs on the reported date, and I agree. 
    
    I believe that the observation most likely was made 7 days earlier, on 07 Sep EDT. I base this in part on Lance's report of "a very
    nice northern lights display" and Sky & Telescope's story of a noteworthy on that date:
    
    http://skyandtelescope.com/news/current/article_730_1.asp
    
    On Saturday night [07 Sep EDT] observers across Europe, North America, and even in Australia and New Zealand witnessed an impressive
    display of green curtains, red rays, and flashing lights. The show began approximately one hour after twilight, and provided an
    encore about three hours later. 
    
    Sky & Telescope editor in chief Rick Fienberg and senior editor Joshua Roth were observing from Danbury, New Hampshire, when Roth
    noticed "a nasty haze" coming up in the northwest shortly before 9 p.m. 
    
    "For the next hour or so," says Fienberg, "we watched a very active display, with faint green and brighter red rays and curtains
    filling the northern sky and, at times, reaching all the way to the zenith. The brightest rays looked like searchlight beams." 
    
    NOSS 2-3 made a pass that agrees closely with the reported observation. Here is the ephemeris; time is EDT:
    
     7/ 9/ 2  19:44 - 05:53 DST  J2000.0  EL > 15  44 N 72 W
    NOSS 2-3 (C)   96029C   23908   Bull =    0    44 N 72 W
    SGP4  Age =    0.2 d  Unc =    0 s ( 25%) Src = 1
    
      TIME      %I   Mvv    AZ  EL     R.A.       DEC      FE    VANG  RANGE   ALT
    --------    --  ----   ---  --   --------  ---------  ----   ----  -----  -----
    22:03:11    14  10.1   322  15   12:19:43   46:51:49   6.1   0.09   2672   1150
    22:04:33    19   9.2   323  23   12:55:44   52:57:25   6.1   0.12   2215   1156
    22:05:36    25   8.4   323  31   13:42:31   58:08:38   6.1   0.15   1886   1160
    22:06:25    32   7.8   322  40   14:41:46   61:52:59   6.1   0.19   1652   1164
    22:07:04    38   7.2   322  48   15:50:37   63:38:46   6.0   0.23   1487   1166
    22:07:36    45   6.8   322  55   17:00:12   63:14:18   6.0   0.27   1370   1168
    22:08:04    52   6.4   321  63   18:03:06   60:51:41   6.0   0.30   1287   1170
    22:08:29    58   6.1   320  70   18:54:03   57:01:01   5.9   0.32   1230   1172
    22:08:52    64   5.9   317  78   19:33:45   52:13:14   5.8   0.34   1195   1173
    22:09:14    70   5.7   306  85   20:05:06   46:47:04   5.5   0.35   1178   1174
    22:09:35    76   5.5   175  87   20:29:43   41:06:24   1.1   0.35   1177   1176
    22:09:56    81   5.4   153  80   20:50:06   35:13:06  12.4   0.34   1192   1177
    22:10:18    85   5.4   150  73   21:07:51   29:04:22  12.3   0.33   1223   1178
    22:10:30 EP 88   5.4   149  69   21:16:29   25:43:15  12.2   0.32   1247   1179
    22:10:40 EU 89   5.4   148  66   21:22:52   23:05:38  12.2   0.31   1270   1179
    
    The predicted magnitude of about 5.5 at culmination is an average; NOSS are known to frequently reach between magnitude 2 and 4.
    
    Ted Molczan
    
    
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