using a cell-phone to observe a cell-phone satellite

From: Tom Wagner (
Date: Mon Aug 02 2004 - 00:42:00 EDT

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    Two days ago I wrote to a "geocaching" (GPS) friend (Mark) telling him he
    could see a Mag -7 iridium flare tonight. He had no idea what I was talking
    about. :~) When I checked to see what I was in for myself, I saw that I
    could see a -4 flare from the -same- satellite here in my town N of where
    Mark was. So I called him this afternoon and asked if we could observe this
    flare while communicating on a cell phone. He was located 36 statute miles
    (or 34 statute miles when using his longitude) S of me. From his location
    (coords = 41.9812, -92.579) the flare was scheduled to peak 8 seconds later
    for him (21:55:10 local time, GMT -5,) than for me (21:55:02 local time,
    coords = 42.4735, -92.3604). The satellite was Iridium 30.
    Over the phone I gave him directions about exactly where to look (in the NE
    part of Cygnus). I could hear him instructing his family where to look. Then
    came the show. I began by saying, "I can see it. Here it comes." He said, "I
    can't see it." Then as it got brighter and brighter for me I heard him say,
    "I see it!" Then, 8 seconds after I saw it reach its peak I laughed as I
    heard him exclaim, "Wow! That's bright! Man its getting brighter! Wow! I've
    never seen a satellite get that bright before!"
    Mark was very pleased and asked me to send him the URL from which I got the
    information about this "iridium flare" that we observed together. It was a
    blast for me to hear the excitement in his kids voices over the phone as
    they experienced this unique event shining down from above our atmosphere.
    I hope to do more like this.
    Tom  Iowa  USA
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