Obs seven new Iridiums 14Sep97 1238UT

Sun, 14 Sep 97 05:51:38 PDT

I just witnessed a most amazing sight.  I saw all 7 of the new Iridiums
launched by the Proton, all within the same 7 deg. FOV in my binoculars.
This was my first time seeing a cluster so soon after launch.  For
most of the pass they were not visibile at 1 power, until they got
to a particular part of the sky, at which time they began flaring into
the mag 3 range and all were visible at 1 power simultaneously.

This was a morning SSE -> E -> NNE pass, max 57 deg above horizon.
Because I've got limited access to the internet as I write this, I can't
check the archives to see the current Iridium Flare Obs format, so
let me just report for now that the flares were observed low in the NNE,
25 deg above AZ 18.  The sun was at AZ 74, -14 deg.

I used the elsets from OIG, although the predicted elset posted earlier
by Ron Lee would have been good enough.  Ron's was 25 sec early, and
just a couple of degrees lower.  Not bad!

The eighth object associated with this launch, 24951 97-051H, made a
pass about 40 minutes later, but the twilight was too strong and I
missed it.

 Craig Cholar    3432P@VM1.CC.NPS.NAVY.MIL
 Marina, California
 36 41 10.3N,  121 48 17.9W    (36.6862, -121.8050)      UTC -7