Re: Lunar Iridium flares

Ed Cannon (
Mon, 20 Dec 1999 04:37:07 -0600

Jay Respler ( wrote:

] Ed Cannon wrote:
] > I tried a different (pretty bad) method of observing this morning.
] > I didn't print out predictions; I just had them on my PC and went
] > outside and looked, came back in, etc.
] But that's how I've been doing it for years.  Much faster and easier
] that way. There are other advantages too.

I ended up doing the same again Sunday evening due to apparently 
developing clouds plus the bright moonlight.  I did manage to 
see a bright flare from Iridium 77?, the ISS and some other 
bright ones, and even -- due to it getting clearer for a while 
-- managed with my binoculars to find USA 144 at about +5 as it 
headed south at its stately pace.

I said this method is pretty bad because my home "observing site" 
is the parking lot outside of my small apartment in the middle of 
town.  It's surrounded by street lights, building and parking lot
security lights, a traffic light, and frequent passing vehicles.  
And every time I go out my door, my eyes are assaulted by a 
bright security light on the wall of the neighboring building, 
only three or four (maybe five) meters away.  So it's miserable.  
I am sometimes amazed that in spite of all that sometimes I can
see third magnitude stars fairly well out there.  That's when 
the air is very dry of course.

I should have printed some predictions and gone to the park, but 
even there it is less of a solution in the winter because the 
tree limbs are bare and more light from streets and porches gets 
through.  (At least in the morning some very bad sports field 
and park lights are never lit -- so far.)  Outside my apartment 
I struggle to position myself in a spot that is the intersection 
of the shadows of two telephone poles that block two bad security 
lights!  And certain azimuths require being in a different spot.
But it's just impossible to block out one street light that is
across the street....  Now, if I had a yard like some of my 
friends out west of town (not far from the BCRC observing site), 
things would be very different!

I hope this might encourage some city-bound observers.  If you 
can just get away from lights shining right in your eyes, and if
the sky is pretty clear and you can see second magnitude stars, 
you should be able to see a few bright satellites at one power, 
and of course quite a few more with binoculars!  I do feel for 
Mr. Chia in Singapore, where it's clear about 3 nights per month,
plus apparently also quite light-polluted.

Clear and dark nights to everyone!

Ed Cannon - - Austin, Texas, USA

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