Satellites passing through lunar penumbra/umbra

From: Matson, Robert (
Date: Sun Mar 02 2003 - 16:17:58 EST

  • Next message: Russell Eberst: "Re: Satellites passing through lunar penumbra/umbra"

    Hi Thomas and List,
    As some list members already know, my SkyMap program will indicate
    satellites which are in lunar penumbra and umbra during solar
    eclipses (and compute their visual magnitudes as they traverse
    these zones).  In order to see a satellite go from bright to
    dim (or invisible) to bright again, you need to be in one
    of two places:  along the path of totality, or within about
    a thousand mile semi-circle radius of the start or end point
    of an eclipse.  For the former, I seriously doubt anyone would
    take valuable time away from enjoying the spectacle of a total
    eclipse to attempt to see a satellite in another part of the
    sky.  But the latter case is a great opportunity since you
    can be in full darkness at your site (not the twilight of
    a total eclipse), greatly expanding the list of candidate
    satellites in reach of your eyes, binoculars or telescopes.
    For the June eclipse through Africa (was that last year or
    the year before?) I found dozens of satellites that would
    have been visible dipping at least 3 visual magnitudes.  To
    my knowledge, no one has yet attempted to observe such an
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