Notes from Urbia

From: Geoff Chester <>
Date: Thu, 27 Apr 1995 09:48:18 -0400

Fellow sat spotters:

Every now and again we all get pleasantly surprised. I've been casually watch-
ing satellites for many years, and when I got a copy of Mike McCants' wonder-
ful QUICKSAT program I began to take a bit more serious interest. Most of my
observing takes place from the light-polluted front yard of my house in Alex-
andria, VA, hard by the megawatt-wasting lights of Our Nation's Capital, Wash-
ington DC. I am always looking for bright satellites to show folks, and if a
good pass of MIR or the Shuttle is due, I alert my friends in the TV waether
biz, and most of the time they plug the event.

Well, last night was a clear night, so I cranked out a prediction table based
on Ted Molczan's elements, toggling only sats of mag 4 or brighter that culmi-
nated above 45 degrees. I scanned the printout and saw one which jumped off
the page at me...Cosmos 2258 was showing a 0.7 magnitude just after culmina-
tion! "Rats", I thought, "something's screwed in the mag file..." Well,
busy urban lifestyles being what they are, I had to run to the hardware
store to get some stuff...close to the appointed time of C2258's flyover.
I got out of the car under the glare of 1kW streetlamps, was able to pick out
Sirius, Mars and Arcturus for bearings, and waited. Well danged if that thing
didn't appear, brighter than advertised, right on schedule! It was very close
to zero magnitude, noticeably brighter than Mars and about on par with Arc-
turus. I'm adding this one to MIR, the Shuttle, and the Lacrosse birds for
my "John Q. Public Must-See" list!

A bit later, at home, I noticed that Resurs 1-3 r was due by in a part of the
sky that's reasonably dark (3.5 mag naked-eye stars!) It was due to come out
of the earth's shadow between Arcurus and Izar, then move off to the north.
Well, it popped out right on schedule, and exhibited a wonderful flash with a
sharp deep minimum (I measured 10 intervals on the minimum in 14.3 seconds)
and grew as bright as mag 1.5 on some of the flashes. Now that C2237 r is
nearly steady ( as I see it) this one is my new "super-flasher" for my
spring and summer star parties!

It's nice to be surprised like this, especially twice on the same night!


& Geoff Chester Albert Einstein Planetarium &
& "If you push something hard enough it will fall over" &
& -- Fudd's First Law of Opposition &
Received on Thu Apr 27 1995 - 11:09:49 UTC

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