Titan 4

Walter Nissen (dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Wed, 10 Jul 1996 10:39:20 -0400

Ted Molczan writes: 
> I have plenty of experience observing very poor passes, mostly with 
> success, so I am inclined to believe that the object has made a 
> major manoeuvre. 
You must be a better observer than I.  I have frequently been completely 
unable to locate objects at poor phase angles (i.e., backlit, i.e., poor 
solar illumination).  The Tselinas and Okeans are notorious in this 
regard, but hardly unique.  I have remarked before that the concept of 
phase angle is based on a theoretical rough-textured sphere, but that real 
satellites are boxier, more shadowy, and shinier.  In fact, I'm not sure I 
see how the concept of phase angle applies at all to the typical tumbling, 
shiny rocket body?  (Mike, if you'd like to give us the benefit of your 
extensive experience and deep knowledge of physics here, I would be very 
grateful.  Also, I know that you know a great deal about how to 
distinguish meteors from artifical satellite re-entries, and would be 
similarly grateful if you could express that).  I have also remarked that 
TOPEX is more visible at "poor" phase angles than at "favorable" phase 
angles, because it has a flat, shiny bottom surface. 
I've kind of lost track of which elsets for the T4 are worth using, an 
occurrence that has happened to me a few times in the past year or so.  I 
think I could do a better job of picking my spots if I had more guidance 
on this.  I'm not sure I'm unique in this regard.  In my case, it is my 
physiological deficiencies which make it all but impossible to hold a 
posture for a lengthy period, but for others it may be lack of great 
Walter Nissen                   dk058@cleveland.freenet.edu