NOAA 15, ETS 6, Cosmos 2228, SPOT 3?, Irid 11A

Ed Cannon (
Thu, 07 Jan 1999 03:14:49 -0600

Belated report of a very bright (-2 to -3), lengthy (15-25
seconds) flare from NOAA 15 (25338, 98-30A), on 27 Dec 1998 
UTC (Saturday p.m. 26 Dec local).  I was in San Antonio, 
Texas (29.4N, 98.66W, 180m).  Predicted culmination was 
1:40:03; the flare began nearly two minutes later, as NOAA 
15 was descending far to the north.  I noted (rough) flare 
times as 1:41:55 to 1:42:15.

Twice recently, with hand-held 10x50 binoculars, I've been 
able to find ETS 6 (23230, 94-56A) flashing, first from San 
Antonio on the same night as the above NOAA 15, and again 
last Monday night (5 Jan 1999 UTC) from BCRC, Austin.  The 
range was more than 8000 km (5000 miles).  Its slow motion 
and frequent flashing (to about mag. +6?) helped me have a 
fair chance to find it.

Just to add to the Cosmos 2228 story, Mike McCants reported
-1 and -2 flashes last March:

and I've also more than once seen it do pairs of very bright 
flashes near the culmination of passes.

Now, has anyone in the southern hemisphere seen anything 
recently from SPOT 3 (22823, 93-61A)?  A few months ago on
most passes over here it did great flashes, some of them 
being some of the brightest I've seen -- rivals of good 
Iridium flares in magnitude.  The flashes were seen as it 
moved far to the north.  I've seen two different sizes 
listed for its solar panel(s):  15.6 meters and 8 meters;
either is large enough to make for very bright flashes.

Tuesday evening I was able to show two other people two 
fairly good Iridium flares in less than 3 minutes.  First 
was listed by Iridflar as Iridium "11 M", which I believe 
is one of the latest ones, 25577/98-74A.  It was perhaps -1, 
brighter than predicted, with solar elev. of about -6.5.
Then just over 2 minutes later came a -2 flare of Iridium
26, which I think is 24903/97-43A.

Wednesday evening had a good one-power pass of Galileo IUS
(20299, 89-84C) through Cassiopeia, with it being of about
the same magnitude as the constellation's brightest stars.
Then I went to a meeting.  (I still can't figure out why
astronomers hold meetings at night....)

Ed Cannon - - Austin, Texas, USA