Observed Lunar transit -- what did I see?

From: David Ellsworth (davidell@earthling.net)
Date: Thu Oct 16 2003 - 17:30:56 EDT

  • Next message: Edward Lyons: "Re: Shenzhou 5: additional pieces catalogued"

    Hello All,
    
    I am new to this list, having seen my first lunar transit by a pure fluke 
    last night!
    
    I got a new 4" refractor a few days ago, and I was admiring the Moon at 
    65X. Then I saw this beautiful silhouette start to cross the disc... it was 
    SO detailed. Taking a lazy 15-20 seconds to cross, I got a wonderful look 
    at it! It was vertically oriented and had a clear separation between top 
    and bottom halves; the top was narrow and the bottom was wider. The sides 
    had visible detail in them -- they were not smoothly straight -- but in awe 
    as I was  I did not think to make a mental snapshot and a quick sketch.
    
    The crossing ended at 15 Oct 23:35:30 after crossing the Moon (altitude 
    19-d 37') from left to right and slightly upward oriented to the horizon, 
    which translates to North-South and slightly West. Its velocity did not 
    perceptible waver, and it became invisible after crossing the sunlit 
    portion of the moon. I would estimate it to be 10-15 arc seconds in 
    apparent height.
    
    Here is an approximate simulation of what I saw: 
    http://www.pbase.com/image/22363503/original
    The simulated satellite is intentionally not antialiased, because there was 
    a sharp delineation between top and bottom halves.
    
    It is an amazing feeling to have seen something that nobody else on Earth 
    saw! This has to be a virtual guarantee given how sensitive transits are to 
    location.
    
    I have not been able to find it using either J-Pass or CalSky. Is it 
    possible I saw a satellite not in their databases? Given how long it took 
    to transit, it would have had to be very far and therefore VERY large... IF 
    it was moving perpendicular to me. Is it possible its path was extremely 
    foreshortened because it was moving toward me?
    
    Or is it more likely that it wasn't a satellite? I'm open to speculation. 
    What could it have been? The mystery of the thing is driving me nuts!
    
    Regards,
    David
    
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    To unsubscribe from SeeSat-L, send a message with 'unsubscribe'
    in the SUBJECT to SeeSat-L-request@satobs.org
    List archived at http://www.satobs.org/seesat/seesatindex.html
    



    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Oct 16 2003 - 17:37:15 EDT