TiPS on 7-21 & 22 U.T.

R.B. Minton (
Mon, 22 Jul 1996 12:17:21 -0600

I observed TiPS in the West on these two UT dates.  On 7-21-96 it was acquired
at 04:02:18 UT on video with a 3.5 inch aperture, F/5.6, 500mm focal length
Cassegrain reflector with a video field of view of 2 deg.  TiPS was then lost
from view 10 sec. later because it could not be seen in the video viewfinder.
It could not be re-acquired 6 subsequent times during the same pass.  The 
initial acquisition was due to its abnormal brightness.  The observation was at
azimuth 299, elegation 31; which put it towards the solar azimuth.  The mag.
limit of this setup is 9.  The upper mass was only marginally visible at 1 or
2 times.  The lower mass was almost always visible except near the end leaving
only the tether recorded.  Measuring the TV screen using the plate scale & 
video enlargement gives a tether length of 7 arc-min; with the upper mass lead-
ing by 15 deg.  There were numerous flashes with attack & decay times around
half a second - nowhere near as fast as EGP, but much faster than a rotating
booster.  The brightness of the lower mass varied by the same half-second, and
the following are mag. estimates at the start of each whole second:
  18     = 6
  19     = 7
  20     = 8
  21     = 4 (yes, four)
  22     = 8
  23     = 7
  24     = 8
  25->28 = 9
TiPS was about 10 sec. early using the 96191 elset.

The 2nd observation was on 7-22-96 from 04:41 to 04:46 UT using only 10x70 
handheld binoculars.  The max. elevation of 20 deg. precluded using the normal
video setup.  I used averted vision almost the whole time looking for flashes -
there were none and only the tether was visible.  I did not record the orienta-
tion (blush).

R. B. Minton
Astronomers not only do it at night, they start during strong twilight.