Ariane 4 + Spot 5 obs report

From: Daniel Deak (dan.deak@sympatico.ca)
Date: Sat May 04 2002 - 01:04:27 EDT


Hi all,

My girlfriend Lucille and I were treated to a very nice show tonight with the
observation of the Ariane 4 third stage fuel dump followed by the satellite
separation. Here is the complete report.

Times in UTC, May 03, from location in signature

01:40  Start of observing session.

01:52:12  First naked eye obs of the cloud in the center of Hercules. Shape was
          elliptical and we could see a faint mag. 4 object in the center. The
          manoeuvre had already begun. We were busy looking ahead of that 
          position because the objet was late 2.5 minutes from the SkyMap
          prediction. (First time I use SkyMap, Rob, so maybe I did something
          wrong, or the trajectory file was a bit off.)

01:52:30  The cloud has a C shape and has grown to 3.5 degrees (my 20x80
          binoculars FOV). See drawing on http://www.obsat.com/images/spot5a.jpg

01:53:19  We can see two separate objects in binoculars. Both the same
          magnitude. Definitely yellow or orange in colour.

01:53:53  Objects cross the M92 globular cluster (or is it another object?)

01:54:04  Initial cloud has dispersed but another one has emerged toward the
          ground in a conical shape.

01:54:25  The trailing object's magnitude is falling and gets one mag. dimmer
          than the leading object.

01:55:23  Nearest approach to Alpha Cepheus (Alderamin)

01:55:39  Two objects lost in cloud (the traditional enemy of the observer).

01:57:32  Object reacquired at cloud exit. Still a faint cloud around it. I can
          not separate both objects, they are too dim (mag 8).

01:58:47  Lost the objects because of faint magnitude.

In all, it was a very exciting observation, my first of an Ariane 4. But we
nearly missed it because of a band of clouds that was stretching just along the
trajectory. It partly cleared the rocket path just before the obs. and weather
was cold (5 C) and very windy (binoculars were shaking).

Cheers,

Dan

-- 
Daniel Deak
representant, projet spatial Starshine
L'Avenir, Quebec

COSPAR site 1747 : 45.7275N, 72.3526W, 191 m., UTC-5:00

Site en francais sur les satellites:
French-language satellite web site : http://www.obsat.com

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