Small parade of three geosynchs

From: Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Date: Sat Sep 30 2000 - 12:49:04 PDT

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    Last night from about 1:49 to 2:27 (Sept 30) UTC, using my handheld
    10x50 binoculars, I observed three geosynchs in a small "parade" on 
    the same track.  I would first see them more or less between 
    3 Aquarii and the nearby pair 4 and 5 AQR (which all three together 
    make an easily identifiable small triangle).  This is at about 
    RA 20:48, Dec -5 (2000).
    
    Over a period of several minutes each in turn would be overtaken by 
    another pair of stars to the east, 11 and 12 AQR, at about 21:02, -5.  
    The first two were visible at the same time.  The first was brightest
    of the three, as bright as 3 AQR, which I think, though it is 
    apparently a variable star, is brighter than +5.  Since watching them
    continually is something like watching the minute hand of an analog
    watch, what I would do is get a fix, look at an LEO or two, and then
    look back to see the new position.  (You should see my scribbly little 
    diagrams!)
    
    I haven't tried to ID these satellites yet.  At the moment I'm more 
    interested in understanding why I'm seeing them (aside from the 
    obvious fact that the nights this week have been superb!).  I assume 
    it's the flaring geosynch phenomenon and appreciate very much Kevin's 
    Fetter's list reply the other day.  I haven't tried to use the 
    "about to enter eclipse" version of Highfly yet.  
    
    If a quick and easy answer is possible, what I'd most like to know 
    before this evening is in the most general sense where to look to 
    see more of them.  Does the "flaring geosynch" area move during the 
    night?  If so, does it move westward with the Sun (i.e., so that the 
    Sun-object-observer angle stays constant -- if I'm thinking 
    correctly)?  I was trying to figure this out in my head last night in 
    order to try to see more of them, but I'm just not (yet?) qualified 
    for that kind of figuring.
    
    Later in the evening I'm pretty sure that I found Galaxy XI (26038,
    99-071A), but it was about +8.  I didn't write down the exact time 
    (very roughly 4:25, plus-or-minus a few), but for a few minutes I 
    watched as it crossed the 23:00 RA line, at -5 Dec.  This is quite a 
    bit later than the previous nights, and I wonder if it's just always 
    fairly bright for a geosynch, considering how large it is.
    
    I've been trying to see Solaridad 1 (22911, 93-073A), whose failure 
    Don Gardner wrote about in August, but so far without success.
    
    Non-satellite obs. -- Later in the evening while looking for 
    Gorizont 13, I saw a +7.0 star not on the +7.5 charts (1950) that I 
    have.  It was near iota Capricorni.  There's an online site with 
    charts with stars to +10 (and deep-sky objects to +12.9!), but I 
    don't see it there either, so maybe it was an asteroid, at about 
    21:19, -16.5 (2000).  I never dreamed, using handheld 10x50 
    binoculars, I'd need star charts to such faint magnitudes!!  That
    online chart site is:
    
    http://www.hawastsoc.org/deepsky/
    
    Observing location: 30.314N, 97.866W, 280m.
    
    Ed Cannon - ecannon@mail.utexas.edu - Austin, Texas, USA
    
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