Lunar Iridium Flare!

From: Matson, Robert (
Date: Fri Mar 24 2000 - 10:35:01 PST

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    Hi Ron!
    Congratulations on your second lunar Iridium flare!  Very
    impressive!  As you are well aware, rarely do all the pieces
    fall into place for this observation.  The moon has to be
    within about 5 days of full (preferably within 3 days of
    full), the sun has to have set at the satellite, skies
    have to be clear, and you have to be very close to the
    centerline of the flare -- basically the equivalent of a
    -6 or brighter regular Iridium flare.  It's also best if
    it isn't the night of the full moon, since full moon lunar
    flares can only occur when the moon is above the horizon
    (which greatly reduces limiting magnitude).
    > Secondly, I had a predicted 8.5 magnitude lunar flare from
    > Iridium 74 (#25345).  After pointing at the predicted position,
    > I waited until 20 seconds before the event and waited.  Then
    > a faint object was seen moving at the right place, time and
    > direction.  I estimate the magnitude at 11.  Possibly a major
    > reason for the difference from the predicted magnitude is that
    > this was closer to last quarter than full moon.
    Yes -- the MOONFLAR program that I gave Ron does not
    have a lunar phase function in it.  This is sufficient
    to account for much of the 2.5 magnitude discrepancy.
    I hope to get a chance to take care of this before
    Ron's next opportunity tonite.  --Rob
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