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Mystery Cache

Hello ISS!

A cache by Iowa Tom
Hidden : 7/9/2005
In Iowa, United States
4 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

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Geocache Description:

This is a tubular shaped cache with no room for trade items. It is NOT at the mapped location. To find it you will need access to the Internet to search through maps, aerial photos and more. Good luck! And oh, for now bring your own pencil or pen to sign the log. Please do not leave your own. The FTF person should take the silver FTF star.

Now this is a long description! If you want only the directions for finding the cache, start at the dark blue lettered part below.

I seem to have developed a new hobby, i.e. making cache containers that people have to figure out how to open. This one is constructed out of PVC pipe inside of which is a gizmo I found on a curb while geocaching with some of my senior students on our first night in San Antonio, senior trip 2005. It was their first time geocaching. Anyway, I thought that someday I might figure out a use for that piece of junk and so I have. It's part of this container now! I still don't know what it is. It's up to you to figure out how to get at the inside w/o breaking the container.

Inside this cache you will find a pretty good picture of Waterloo that was taken by an astronaut while aboard the International Space Station (ISS). On the image (one on the front of the page and one on the back) are marked your location while standing at the cache and vehicles barely visible on the road. Astronauts in orbit can easily see larger roads, like Martin Luther King drive in Wloo w/o optical aid! On a 12 inch globe they would be orbiting only 2/3 of an inch above the surface. Most people don't realize that they are not very far up, relatively speaking. With binoculars they should be capable of spotting vehicles! I once heard Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut say (while up at UNI in Cedar Falls) that if she new where to look she would have been able to spot it at night) the lights at her favorite 711 gas station.

I also have a small version of the Wloo picture at the cache that if you look at it at 5.4 feet away you will see Wloo at the same size as the astronauts saw it when they were flying over.

This artist's depiction of the Station shows what it will look like if ever it gets completed. They say it'll reflect so much sunlight that it'll be visible even in a blue sky! I'm sure you would have to know right where to look to see it in daylight however. Like a person can see Venus in a blue sky when the planet is bright and far from the sun IF you look right at it.

The reason the Wloo from space image is so meaningful to me is related to what I say following. In April 2003 I was set up to reflect sunlight from three large mirrors toward Don Pettit. That would be of no surprise expect for the fact that Pettit was just over 200 miles away, straight up! At the time he was aboard the ISS acting as the science officer. On that day, the ISS transited (crossed ) the center of the sun as I saw it from the Hawkeye Community College grounds. Coincidentally the track of the "centerline" of the transit swept right over the Hawkeye campus. I invited the astronomy professor to take his class out to see it occur. He took up my offer. They watched a projected image of the sun on the wall of the building next to my 8" telescope which I set up for them. I was manning a large mirror and my 5" scope with a video camera attached to record the event. My son and daughter (who I had taken out of school to help me) were also holding a large mirror each. At the moment of the occurrence I heard some students yell out that they saw a black speck wiz across the sun's disc. One can see the ISS cross the sun in my video, albeit just barely.

Unfortunately, Pettit "had his ands in the glove-box" as he put it. He had finally gotten the "glove-box" - the compartment they conduct science experiments in - working again and didn't want to break away. The reason this was such a hullabaloo is that this was, as far as I know, the first solar transit by the ISS to be videotaped by anyone. I was using data provided by Tom Fly. He has developed a program that a person can subscribe to via e-mail. It tells you when the ISS will transit the sun, Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter or Saturn as seen from a place of your choosing. I got signed up as soon as he developed the program.

To the right here is a picture of Don Pettit looking out the big window in the ISS. It was probably the same window he looked out in trying to spot my mirror reflection.

Don Pettit gave me one more opportunity to signal him with a mirror. This time he was not directly in front of the sun so doing the geometry was a lot harder. He was looking one day in early May 2003 when he passed just N of Waterloo. However, even though he said "the sky was beautifully clear down there"

Just in 1/19/07. Take a look at this new NASA Reference Guide to the International Space Station!

You will probably discover that finding the final cache may be quite challenging. You will be best to use Google Map satellite images, Black Hawk County Online and any other geocaching map resource you can come up with. Being a “premium member” should give you an advantage. It’ll allow you to get to interactive maps that will make part of this task easier. To test the coord you come up with click here.

Now to begin: In the end you are going to end up with a number that you will used to correct a coord that is in error. That will give you the coord for the final cache.

(1) There is a cache owned by Iowa Tom (IT) that is 0.87 miles from the coordinates posted on this cache page. From now on I will be referring to those coords as the “home coords.” That cache is generally W (heading = 270 degrees) of the home coords. [If you need to you can set up a go-to in your GPSr to the home coords and drive around till your GPSr reads 0.87 miles and a bearing of 70 degrees, that is assuming however that you have custom set the display to read bearing and distance. At that distance and bearing you will be very close to the cache in question.]

Once that cache is found cut and paste (or copy) its name to a blank Word document. Next run all the words together by taking out the spaces between them. You will be doing the same thing for the names of several other caches.

(2) Open image 1 and figure out what the name of the IT cache that is located in the circle. You may want to use the satellite images presented by Google at this URL. then use to determine which cache is there. Once found, paste its name to the end of the other cache’s name and again, take out all the spaces. You are going to be counting letters soon.

(3) Open image 2 and figure out what the name of the IT cache that is located in the circle. Once found, paste its name to the end of the other cache’s name and again, take out all the spaces.

(4) Open image 3 and figure out what the name of the IT cache that is located in the circle. Once found, paste its name to the end of the other cache’s name and again, take out all the spaces.

(5) Now for the Word document you started: go to File, Properties, Statistics, Characters. Make note of how many characters there are. You will be in need of that number. Type it out now. Call it “A”. NOTE: if the “Characters” and “Characters (with spaces)” numbers are different, you missed a space! Also make sure you did not accidentally delete a letter.

(6) Open image 4 and locate that house using Google Maps and Black Hawk County Online [BHCO]. At BHCO click on "Real Estate Mapping" to get to the mapping software. Once you find that house at BHCO, open the Detailed Report (on the left side of the webpage) and scroll down to the bottom left of that info. There you will see listed the year that house was built. Keep track of that number as “B”. If you give up using BHCO the name of this house is listed under National Register of Historic Places in Black Hawk County. A Google search using info obtained there can provide you with a URL that will list the date of construction of both this place and the one in image #5. Hint: an anagram of the name of the house in image #4 is "NURSE DOM".

(7) Open image 5 and locate the small stone building that is on the property of a church. Use Google maps and BHCO to determine when that stone building was constructed. The date it was built is located in the on the lower left of the Detailed Report after the words: 1S STONE BLDG. Keep track of that number as “C”.

(8) Finally, open image 6 and using whatever means at your disposal, locate the numerical value of the address of the house that is boxed in. It’s the 3rd one W of the corner. You may want to double check that you got the right place by seeing whether it was built in 1911 or not. Keep track of that number as “D”. [By the way, I lived at that house when I was 7 and younger.]

Now use the following mathematical sequence for determining the correct latitude. (((A x 20) + B + C + D) - 8) divided by 10,000 added to the minutes in the incorrect longitude W 92 19.279 = the corrected longitude. The correct latitude is N 42 27.247.

Here's something for fun. The right most of the three images here shows the clearest shot of the Space Station I have ever seen taken during a solar transit. Click on it to see it closer. A movie of that transit is available at this website. To see it click on the word video. It’s a fantastic slow motion of the images that were put together to make the composite. On 7/12/06 John Locker in England took this movie of a transit of the ISS with Shuttle attached transiting the sun at this location. Click on the two videos below to see the ISS transiting part of the moon and passing very close to Saturn. What a shot that Saturn one is! John has a compiled a lot of his ISS transit videos at this location. I think this one is my favorite. Hang on, it's slow to load.

Iowa Tom Iowa Tom

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Abg sne sebz Pebffebnqf va Jybb.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)

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There are no Trackables in this cache.



48 Logged Visits

Found it 33     Didn't find it 2     Write note 8     Temporarily Disable Listing 1     Enable Listing 1     Owner Maintenance 2     Update Coordinates 1     

View Logbook | View the Image Gallery of 26 images

**Warning! Spoilers may be included in the descriptions or links.

Current Time:
Last Updated: on 7/27/2014 1:14:27 PM Pacific Daylight Time (8:14 PM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum