More viewing Iridii from orbit

From: Robert Reeves (
Date: Sun Mar 23 2003 - 00:19:02 EST

  • Next message: David Brierley: "DMB Obs Mar 22"

    After a bumpy start of hits and misses, it looks like Don Pettit on the ISS
    is nailing the Iridium flares with regularity now.  The past three days he
    has seen four flares each day.  His photography is also getting better.  Now
    that he has a sense of the flare timing, he can hit the shutter of his Nikon
    digital, factor in the exposure delay, and catch the full familar tapered
    brightening and fading of the flare while framing it with the station's
    solar panels.  Rob Matson has been supplying SkyMap generated .gifs of the
    star field along with the Earth landmasses below so Don can zero in more
    accurately on the flashes.  Bear in mind the view out the station's windows
    is often restricted by how the station is oriented, the sky can be blocked
    by the solar planels and other external equipment, and often the flares are
    invisible because of sunlight reflecting off station surfaces blinds Don to
    the view of the night sky.
    I must say that I have been thrilled to be able to act as go-between to
    forward Rob's predictions up to the station.  This has been a completely
    amateur project with Rob creating the prediction program on his own and Don
    Pettit looking for the flares on his own.  This is the closest that I will
    ever get to actively being involved in space flight and it has been a blast!
    Robert Reeves            
    520 Rittiman Rd.         
    San Antonio, Texas 78209    210-828-9036
    USA                                     29.484  98.440  200 meters
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