Tether Sighting

Sun, 10 Mar 1996 10:33:02 -0500 (EST)

     Thanks to Mike McCants and the elements he posted, 
I saw the tether 10 March at 11:54 UTC from my location 
of 31.46 N, 100.43 W.  It was beautiful!  I missed seeing it the 
morning of 9 March, probably because I was expecting something 
smaller and fainter.  Instead of driving two miles out of town,
as I had done Saturday morning, I drove twelve miles out of town 
on Sunday in order to find darker skies.

     Sunday morning, I searched with my [cheap] 7x50 binoculars 
and could not locate the tether, but when I put the binos down 
at 11:54 I noticed it straight south from me at an elevation of 
40 degrees.  

     The tether was vertical, about a 5 magnitude.  The bottom 
five percent of the tether seemed to be canted to the right, and 
at times the top of the tether (the satellite) seemed slightly 
brighter, but these observations are not authoritative.  I was 
too busy jumping up and down, whooping with joy, et cetera, to be 
taking good notes!  I followed it with the binos until it faded 
from view at 11:56.

     At 11:57 I switched to 
#21225, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, a nice magnitude 2, 
undoubtedly the same object Ryan Rudnicki reported seeing, south 
of me and 40 degrees up, then at 11:58 switched to  
#04370 Cosmos 332 r/b at 330 and 45 degrees, ascending.  
I was amazed it was only a magnitude 5, while I've seen 
#04579 Cosmos 371 r/b and #04139 Cosmos 304 r/b at 
magnitude 3.5 or brighter.

     Getting back to 9 March, while the shuttle crewmembers were 
no doubt disappointed in not being home sooner, the added day in 
orbit finally opened a window of opportunity for me.  I could see 
STS-75 Saturday morning at 12:06 UTC, straight south of me at a 
33 degree elevation, which partially consoled me after missing 
the tether a half-hour earlier.  

     Saturday night, 10 March 02:12 UTC, I saw 
#22285 Cosmos 2227 r/b followed at an 18 degree separation by 
#17590 Cosmos 1833 r/b, moving along the same "track".  It was 
another thrilling sight.  The only time I've ever seen anything 
similar was shortly after the last shuttle/Mir undocking.  

     At 01:48 I saw #11155 Cosmos 1063 for the first time ever.  
It was magnitude 2.5, a very nice sight, followed at 01:51 by 
#11821 Cosmos 1184.  While I've seen Cosmos 1184 at magnitude 
3.5 or better, Saturday night it was a disappointing 4.0, varying 
to 4.5 or worse. It did not dim out of sight, and I could not time 
a definitive cycle of dimming and brightening, merely note its
erratic appearance in the clear skies of West Texas.

     My hearty thanks to Mike, Bart, and all the other people 
around the world whose hard work has made SeeSat-L such a success.

| Sid Miller | sidneymiller@delphi.com | NH6TB |
| POB 89103                                    |
| San Angelo, Texas  76908                     |
| USA                                          |