vanguard 1 seen
Tue, 08 Jun 99 23:44:44

 Hi all -
 I've also seen Vanguard 1 - it was one of the objects that got
me hooked on Seesat!  Someone posted it's elements, and I'd just
got a copy of Quicksat, so I gave it a try with a 12.5-inch
reflector.  That was in 1995, and I've seen this orbiting antique
6 times now.
 The little satellite is essentially a polished sphere with some
very small flat surfaces (solar panels and/or instruments).  The
reflection off the sphere seems to be magnitude 14 or fainter on
most passes, making it very hard to see.  You need to be lucky
and catch a reflection off one of the small flat surfaces.  The
times I've seen Vanguar 1, these flashes have been in the
magnitude 10 to 12 range, and last a second or two as the object
zips through the field of view.  About half of the times I look
for this object, there are no flashes within the field of view,
and I see nothing.
 So, if you want to see Vanguard 1, get a decent size scope, and
keep trying.
 Vanguard 1's indentical twin is perhaps easier to see, on
display at the Smithsonian Air and Space museum in Washington DC. 
It is the object that sat atop the launch rocket that lifted a
few feet off the pad before exploding, and does show some damage.
 Here's a couple of web sites about Vanguard 1, neither of which
I have personally checked out:
 cheers, Rich Keen, Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado (2.7 km closer to
Vanguard 1)