Re: X-37B

Date: Sun Apr 21 2013 - 20:52:40 UTC

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    My thanks to all who sent me comments directly.   Although it was more 
    difficult than I expected, our crowd of two dozen people were successful in 
    spotting the X-37B at our Astronomy Day stargazing program last night, 15 miles 
    northwest of Washington, DC.   While the sky was clear, there were other 
    issues that made our viewing difficult.   Our eyes were not dark adapted, 
    having just gone outside few minutes earlier.   Twilight was still visible, 
    although it was fairly dark.   Plus the Moon was rather bright.   And while had predicted the X-37B to be 2nd magnitude, it never got close 
    to that.   
    As it rose out of the southeast, it was supposed to have passed close to 
    Alnitak, the left star in Orion's belt (and easily visible at mag. 1.7), yet I 
    never saw the X-37B pass anywhere close to that area of the sky.   I only 
    finally picked it up as it approached zenith.   The problem may have been we 
    were looking too soon and too high.   I checked just now 
    and found it had posted a new TLE as of yesterday, having the X-37B come by 
    some minutes later and along a path shifted a bit further south.
    But, as I said, we did eventually spot it as it approached zenith.   I left 
    my timer inside, so I did not know the time, but my guess is it did come by 
    a few minutes late (for the previous TLE).   And in any case, despite the 
    predicted magnitude 2, it was much dimmer than I expected, certainly no 
    brighter than mag. 3, perhaps less.   
    Jim Cook
    Germantown, MD
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