Daytime Iridium flares

From: Matson, Robert (
Date: Fri Jul 28 2000 - 13:22:06 PDT

  • Next message: Paul Gabriel: "obs 29 jul utc"

    Hi Michael,
    Welcome to the list.  Regarding your attempt of a daytime
    Iridium flare -- Ron Lee's comments are on the mark.  Daytime
    flares are by no means easy the first time around.  The
    problems are multifold, but chief among them is the lack
    of references objects -- both from a pointing and a focusing
    standpoint.  (When you have nothing but deep blue sky to
    look at, your eyes don't tend to focus at infinity).
    Daytime flares are only visible for at most 3 seconds, and
    often a second or less.  You can quite literally blink and
    miss them.  That's why timing is absolutely essential.  You
    shouldn't look up until about 10 seconds before the flare
    time -- and when you do, keep your eyes moving around in
    the vicinity of where you expect the flare will occur.  Be
    counting backwards from 10 in your head so that you know
    when NOT to blink.  If you do all this, your odds should
    improve to about 50%.  (Keep in mind that only a 0.1 degree
    pointing error on the satellite can drop a -8 flare down
    below -4, making it invisible, so there is some random
    luck involved).
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