Re: better view of the sky, for satellite observing as a tree came down

Date: Thu Oct 30 2008 - 15:01:29 UTC

  • Next message: Kevin Fetter: "will observed AMC 18 tonight"

    In a message dated 10/30/2008 8:52:45 AM Eastern  Daylight Time, writes:
    My view to the north, has  improved because a tree fell in my neirbours yard.
    On Tuesday, we got wacked  by a snow storm, and strong wind, which did some 
    damage to tree's.
    So less  blockage of the sky now, in that direction.
    My neirbour, got some work to do,  to remove that tree, from the  yard.
    Kevin  (and everyone else) ---
    I wanted to pass along an E-mail (below) from  Wayne Haley of the meteorobs 
    list, which touches upon both the recent snowstorm  here in the Northeast US 
    and an apparent observation of a flaring geostationary  satellite which he has 
    observed from northern New Jersey.  The "STA"  radiant is the three-letter code 
    for Southern Taurid, a normally weak meteor  display in early November which 
    is predicted to produce some occasional  brilliant fireballs in 2008.
    -- joe rao
    I've had two days of  meteorobs I've been trying to post for the last two 
    days more or less. It  appears I will get them in shortly, along with a third 
    from this morning. I  didn't even try Tuesday, because when by 9AM we were 
    getting heavy wet snow  falling on trees with most of their leaves, I knew we would 
    lose power. Branches  were falling all over the neighborhood, and that was 
    before the wind started.  Sure enough, lost the juice for about 4 hours. 
    Yesterday was better with only a  rain shower, a heavy graupel shower, and heavy snow 
    shower, so I didn't expect a  problem, but apparently the 3 1/2 inches of rain 
    from the previous 2 day's storm  saturated the ground enough to have a tree 
    go over. 6 hours without  power.
    Anyhoo, to the point. On the morning of the 26th, about 2:55 AM  EDT (0655 
    UT) I noticed a star that did not belong. It was near the STA radiant,  just 
    below the pentagon of Cetus, near the western end of Taurus. It was below  alpha 
    and gamma Ceti. I assumed it was a satellite, but it wasn't moving!. No  wait, 
    yes it was, but VERY slowly, about 1 degree in the 5 minutes it was  visible. 
    I noted it on my tape, with the position. Research the next day made me  
    suspect it was a geostationary satellite, and in fact I have tentatively  
    identified it as AMC 18. I also observed it the next morning at almost exactly  the 
    same time, and at a position 1 degree west or so (relative to the stars). In  
    actuality, the motion I observed was not the motion of the satellite (they don't 
     call it a geostationary satellite for nothing) but rather the motion of the  
    stars behind it..about 1 degree per 4 minutes along 0 degree Dec.
    Finally  this morning, I was still waiting for the clouds to clear so I went 
    out in front  of my house with binoculars to spot it. I saw it in binoculars 
    from 2:50 AM EDT  to 3:00. It was visible with the unaided eye from about 
    2:53-2:57, reaching a  peak magnitude of about +3, midway between the brightness of 
    alpha and gamma  Ceti. At the time of the flare, the sun is about 50 degrees 
    below the horizon,  about 30 degrees off from being exactly opposite in the 
    sky. I measured roughly  11 minutes of drift in RA of the stars in 10 minutes.
    I did not know such  events were visible (followup research as shown 
    telescopic obs of geostationary  sats are a niche hobby) but it was a first after a 
    many hundreds hours of meteor  observing. It was fortunate that this area of the 
    sky has few stars as bright  (only Menkar-alpha Ceti is brighter) and it was 
    so close to the STA radiant, so  I glanced over there once in while. That made 
    it really stand out.
    Just  somethuing else to keep an eye out for in the sky!
    Wayne in NJ  
    _meteoreye@comcast.net_ ( 
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