Flaring geosat seen with binocs

From: Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Date: Wed Sep 19 2001 - 06:00:39 EDT

Last night I found a "flaring geosat" with my handheld 10x50
binoculars, and Mike McCants confirmed it with his telescope
and found a fainter one just .25 degrees to the west of it.  
I haven't had time yet (so much e-mail!) to ID them, but I 
think that it's very likely that the bright one was Galaxy 
11 (or "XI", 99-071A, 26038).  It was at the correct 
altitude and azimuth.  I first noticed it when it was at 
about RA 21:19:30, Dec -5.0 (2000).

I found it when I was just "practicing" looking at some 
known asterisms at the correct declination and noticed that
there appeared to be an extra star (about +6 maybe) that 
soon proved not to be fixed with the other stars.  So, I can 
definitely recommend this method -- get familiar with two or 
three asterisms along the correct declination for your 
latitude, and look at them every few minutes to see if you 
see an extra "star".  If you do, give it a minute to see if 
its position changes relative to the asterism. 

We don't understand why they should be starting to flare at
this latitude this far ahead of the equinox, and also why
they can flare at such a long distance from the Earth's
shadow, but it seems that at least some of them do.

I saw three or four one-power flashes last night from 
Orion 3 (99-024A, 25727), when it was quite far to the west
of its culmination.

Last night's observing site was 30.315N, 97.866W, 280m.

Ed Cannon - ecannon@mail.utexas.edu - Austin, Texas, USA

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