Lurker Speaks

From: Art Glick (
Date: Thu Dec 13 2001 - 16:22:54 EST

  • Next message: Alan Pickup: "Decay watch: 2001 December 13"

    Dear List,
    My name is Art Glick, and I'm a "lurker" to this list.  I don't usually
    have much to contribute.  Most of you guys are way beyond my level, which
    usually amounts to checking Heavens Above at dusk most clear evenings.  I
    have an 8" SC scope, but could never hope to catch a fast moving object
    through it.
    My interest goes back to looking for (but not seeing) Sputnik as a boy in
    Philadelphia in the 1950's, and I've probably "logged" (mentally, at least)
    tens of thousands of obs over the many years since.
    My most memorable observation was of the Italian tether which crossed a
    brisk early morning sky as eerily as anything I think I've ever seen in my
    life.  It was stretched out straight and the diameter of the full moon!
    I would agree with many of the listers here that the magnitude of the ISS
    has increased quite dramatically over the past few months, and it lately
    seems to appear here at least several mags greater than that predicted by
    H-A.  I'd swear I've seen it as bright as -6, using the I-flare magnitudes
    as a guide.
    I enjoy reading the posts on this list very much, and especially appreciate
    the decay predictions I've seen (keep 'em coming!).  I won't usually have
    much to contribute, but you'll know I'm there reading and enjoying all your
    The reason I was inclined to write was the following post...
    >Dear List,
    >      I would be interested in seeing photos taken by amateurs of
    >Starshine 3. I have read somewhere that its behaviour is similar to an
    >Iridium flare when observed and I would like to see some samples, if
    >possible, of its behaviour.
    As an elementary school student, my daughter polished mirrors for Starshine
    I, and we were even lucky enough to be able to travel to the Cape to see
    its launch (my first of two shuttle launches!).  Our luck continued upon
    our return to West Virginia, as Starshine I was released less than one
    orbit from a near overhead pass one morning.
    Despite a fairly bright moon that morning, I am one that can count himself
    among those lucky enough to see strobes from Starshine I, and that's what
    they were - very brief, very bright flashes of light (as opposed to the
    gradual brightening and dimming of an I-flare).
    Now most of you listers are better than I (despite a B.S. in Engineering),
    and the ONLY reason we were lucky enough to see those three flashes from
    Starshine was because we KNEW that it was right off the "bow" of the shuttle.
    Gil Moore (the force behind Starshine) had no idea about the intrinsic
    brightness of Starshine I, and its rotational rate ended up being much
    slower than expected (less flashes), but we didn't know this when we
    watched the shuttle come up over the horizon that morning.
    We didn't know what to think as it passed nearly overhead and we saw
    nothing else at all.  Almost ready to give up, our eyes remained fixed on
    the shuttle, and as it neared the opposite horizon, we saw flash, flash,
    flash.  It made it all worthwhile.  If I had to estimate, I'd say the
    flashes were between -2 and -4 in magnitude.
    After that first pass, we tried numerous times to spot a flash from
    Starshine I but never were able to do so.  It's been a few years since
    then, and I've tried on occasion to spot the other Starshine, too, but it
    takes some diligence that I simply don't have the time to contribute.
    You'd have to have the correct TLE, a very accurately set watch and a
    carefully plotted track.  You just have to be looking in the right spot in
    the sky at just the right time, and you'll have nothing but your math to
    guide you.  I'd say that's an impossible challenge for a casual,
    unaided-eye observer like yours truly.
    To the rest of your listers, keep up the good work with this list.  Sorry
    to take up so much space, but I thought some of you might like to know
    about one of the lurkers to this list (I'll bet we're many).
    Best Regards,
    Art Glick
    Cordova  WV
    38.067N, 80.434W, 2950' Elevation
    Almost Heaven Overseas
    HC 67  Box 539 BB
    Renick  WV  24966
    Phone 304-497-2610
    Fax 304-497-2698
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    and the widest selection of Pool, Spa, Sauna
    and Hot Tub Equipment worldwide.
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