Question about Ariane Sylda

From: Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Date: Fri Dec 01 2000 - 00:20:19 PST

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    I received a report of something flashing on the morning of
    Nov. 18 (Leonid maximum).  The person was in California, and
    the best candidate seems to be an Ariane 5 Sylda 5, 26109,
    00-016C (Ariane 505, launched March 21, 2000).  The question 
    is whether one of those could flash to +3.5 at a range of 
    about 24,000 km.  The RCS is pretty big, around 37 square 
    meters, plus or minus.  This page has dimensions and a photo:
    
     http://arianespace.com/launcher_5_payloads1.html
    
    It's a dark cylinder 4 meters by 3.0 to 4.4 meters (depending 
    on the configuration for the particular launch), but it 
    appears to be shiny.  It also may have a flat surface.
    
    The observer was at 34.22N, 119.10W (altitude uncertain -- 
    foothills of the Sierra Nevada, perhaps 500 to 1,000 meters).
    The time as about 9:17 on Nov 18, UTC.  The position reported
    was approximately RA 07h 40m and Dec -12.  The person says 
    that he only saw two flashes and tried to point a 6" (152 mm)
    telescope at it but that it didn't flash any more.  This 
    sylda seemed to be the best candidate, but I don't know if
    it's possible for one to flash that brightly at that range.  
    He mentioned that he's seen geosynchs before in his 14" 
    (356 mm) scope.
    
    *****
    
    In a couple of recent messages I forgot to mention that I 
    was able to see some pretty good (+3.5) one-power Superbird A 
    flashes on two different nights, the second one with it only
    20 degrees above the WSW horizon (which is a good direction
    from the BCRC observing site).  Thanks Rob for letting us 
    know when to look for it!
    
    Doesn't appear that the weather will cooperate for STS-97 
    observing this morning, but I plan to try....
    
    Ed Cannon - ecannon@mail.utexas.edu - Austin, Texas, USA
    
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