Introduction and Questions

From: Adam Vellender (
Date: Fri Jun 04 2004 - 13:41:58 EDT

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    Hi all,
    Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Adam Vellender, and
    I live in Cheltenham, UK. I'm 17, and am interested in
    astronomy in general, although I enjoy seeing things
    moving around up there!  I've been lurking on this
    list for a few months now, and have a few questions to
    ask. I am only a visual observer at the moment - and
    look out for the ISS, Iridium flares and other
    satellites up to about magnitude 3.5 that
    Heavens-Above tells me about when the weather allows
    me to.
    As I said, I have a few questions:
    What is the maximum angle of elevation from the ground
    (I think I probably mean altitude - sorry - I'm still
    getting to grips with the terminology!) at which an
    Iridium Flare can be seen? As far as I can remember,
    I've never seen one with an altitude greater than
    about 45 degrees. Presumably the geometry of the
    reflections off the satellite's panels limit this.
    Would this be different for a tumbling Iridium sat?
    Also, at what kind of magnitude did the space shuttle
    appear when it was in operation? I only discovered
    satellite observing after the Columbia tragedy,
    unfortunately, so never saw it. And how bright do
    Progress crafts appear when undocked?
    And finally, I was wondering what is generally
    considered to be the best free software for satellite
    observing. At the moment, I'm using Orbitron, which
    seems nice and user-friendly, along with Iridflar
    which is great. I was just wondering really whether
    there was any other software that I would benefit from
    Adam Vellender
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