Obs. One Iridium Flare 15-Sept.-97 @ 12:26 UTC

JRBURCA@aol.com
Mon, 15 Sep 1997 10:35:25 -0400 (EDT)

After reading Craig Cholar's Iridium observation from 14-Sept.-97, I loaded
into STS Plus the latest TLE's posted on SeeSat for the latest group launched
from Kazakstan.  It was cloudy with just an occassional clear spot here and
there in the sky.  I had little hope of seeing anything but would try anyway.
The projected path was south-to-north with maximum elv. at 67 degrees at
azimuth 90.3 degrees at 12:23 UTC for the 4th object listed in the TLE's
#24947.

I scanned around the projected path alternating between binoculars and
unaided eye.  The last binocular view made was in the north-northeast
area of sky perhaps 30 degrees elv. but I wasn't looking at exactly the
right area because when I took the binoculars down, I saw for about one
or two sec. a very bright flare through a relatively clear spot between the
clouds.  I'm not good at judging magnitude but it seems to me that it was
close to the brightness of Venus.  But I can say I was quite amazed to 
see anything at all with all the clouds.  I waited about a min. to see if 
anything else would be visible.  Then I checked the clock inside and it
was 12:27 UTC (5:27 AM PDT).  So with my memory and recreating the
pass with STS Plus, here is my attempt to report in the standard Iridium
format.  I don't know which of #24944-24950 was seen flaring but am just
guessing #24947 because it is in the middle of the group.  I used Home
Planet to obtain sun position.  My measurements are best guesses.

		                  Sat   Flare     Sun      Flare         Sun Phase
           NORAD #
   UT                       Dir  AZ  EL  AZ  EL  Dur Mag   OBS         Pass
Az/El
12:26:xx  09/15/97    N   10  20  104 -15    2    -3       JR   Unk   90.3
  67  24947 (?)

I tried to make the labels line up with the data (a lot of trouble) but don't
know
what it will look like in the SeeSat post.  I'll put it in again vertically:

UT -  12:26:xx
Date - 09/15/97
Sat Dir- N
Sat AZ/EL:  10 /  20
Sun AZ/EL:  104  /  -15
Flare Dur:    2
Flare Mag:  -3
Obs:  JR
Sun Phase: Unk
Pass Az/EL:    90.3  /  67
NORAD # :   24947 (?)

My interest is in seeing the bright flares.  A lot of this is very vague to
me
so would someone tell me?..Is this flaring only seen in the recently launched
Iridiums, while they are in a parking (?) orbit?  And then once they are 
boosted into their permament orbits (?), the flaring will be gone?  I know
this is new to everybody but this is the impression I am getting.  That is,
the flares will only be seen during the early orbital stage (parking orbit?)
and then when they get into their permament orbits, no flaring is expected
or is this still an unknown to everyone?  It would be neat to have 72
Iridiums
(66 + 6 spares) potentially flaring every clear night once their orbits are
established! 

Jake Rees
Burbank, Calif., USA
118.3117 W, 34.1817 N,  UTC -7