Re: Observing the "extreme" perigee of 20698

From: Jim (
Date: Thu Mar 09 2000 - 07:09:16 PST

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    Amazing! Congrats to you.
    I'm going thru the eccen files. Right now I'm checking out Satellite Hunting
    software, and looking at suitable objects at perigee.
    If not perigee, maybe at <4000 range. I remember the 28 degree Centuars were
    visable at >10,000 range at times, if they had rapid flash periods. Just
    like a beacon.
    No telling if higher inclination objects will be tumbeling as those big
    Again, amazing experience, and thanks for shareing with us. What a
    challange, Ive gotta try that.
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: MALEY, PAUL D. (JSC-DO) <>
    To: 'SEESAT-L' <>
    Cc: 'Gil Moore' <>
    Sent: Monday, March 06, 2000 10:49 AM
    Subject: Observing the "extreme" perigee of 20698
    > Last week I attended a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico from March
    > Before leaving Houston, I ran predictions for a number of visible
    > and found that the perigee of the auxiliary motor 20698 was oddly
    > just to the west and south of the city. The interesting thing about the
    > motor is that its RCS is about 1 meter squared which was similar to that
    > the recently decayed STARSHINE.  I sent an email to Alan to find out the
    > decay date of this object to see if the decay was close at hand. Luckily
    > was not.
    > But the mean motion was indeed increasing gradually, so I had to run
    > continuing elsets to verify whether the perigee was really where it was
    > supposed to be due to its low altitude. In fact, QUICKSAT produced
    > ranging from 123 to 132 km (77 to 83 miles) altitude on the mornings of
    > March 2 and March 3. The first opportunity was far to the west but a storm
    > moved in and clouded over the whole area. Luckily the sky cleared late on
    > March 2. I did not have a PC with me so I resorted to finding a public
    > library that had an internet connection so I could try to get the latest
    > TLEs from OIG. Yet, when I got on the machine I found the language was
    > entirely in Spanish and the Gateway PC did not have DOS! I finally had
    > elsets faxed to me and located a PC belonging to a conference attendee.
    > Elsets showed that the perigee was gradually rising but the lighting was
    > going to be marginally perfect. Earth shadow exit point was anti-sun 43
    > degrees above the west north west. I decided to drive 48km (30 miles)
    > to Belen where the motor was to fly directly overhead. I had seen this
    > before at a range of 3200km where it was magnitude 9.8, so I had estimated
    > that it could be as bright as +3 at perigee.
    > As the pass time of 12h52m UT on March 3 approached I found a dirt road
    > 1.6km (2 miles)west of the interstate highway at Belen. Rats were seen
    > scurrying across the road in the darkness so I made sure to position
    > on top of the rental car. Stars to  magnitude 4 were faintly visible, and
    > the thin crescent moon appeared low in the east as dawn was starting to
    > creep in. Just prior to 12h53m a white dot at magnitude 3.5 shot out of
    > earth's shadow in Ursa Major. It gradually brightned to +3 before fading
    > quickly at the zenith. It was visible for about 16 seconds and I was able
    > use my Sony camcorder to record part of its flyover [to be shown at
    > 4, whenever that is]. This morning I queried existing historical elsets on
    > OIG and it appears the actual height was more like 147km (92 miles) or so.
    > Either way, the experience was very exciting and this is the lowest I have
    > ever seen an object that was still in orbit.
    > Paul
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