The other day I figured out how to use Google Earth to track the path of an iridium flare that I was going to have the opportunity to see. I tracked it all the way to the Gulf more than 900 miles south of this cache. I wrote to several geocachers in the Baton Rouge area asking if they wanted to take part in a grand experiment, i.e. watching for the same flare that I would see in Waterloo, IA but just over 3 minutes after I see it. Several people wrote back and were interested.
Tonight I saw that flare (mag -7) before people in Baton Rouge saw the sun reflecting off the same satellite after it traveled more than 900 miles! A physics teacher in that area learned of my interest in trying this and saw it as well. I was on the phone with Moipaman as I saw it reach brilliance here then talked him through the phenomenon at the time it occurred for him! This might be the first time this has ever been done. Geocaching made it easy to locate interested parties!
I built a rig that fits atop the very post where this cache is. To it I attached my still camera and my video camera. It includes a compass and a clinometer which enable me to line up the cameras with the azimuth and the altitude that Heavens-Above.com says that the flare will be at its maximum. The rig worked beautifully tonight. See the uploaded picture.
I must say mission accomplished! Next Monday will be another bright one.
One of my students was with me tonight. He was impressed as was I that he came out to share in the expereince.
Oh, by the way, out here doing a test run last night I saw a very fast 40 degree long stragler Leonid meteror and one sporadic. Then tonight when I was talking via cell phone with the physics teacher I saw another bright and beautiful Leonid!
PS I just submitted a post about this event at SeeSat-L, a satellite observing group I belong to. If interested, it's here: http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Nov-2006/0216.html One typo I discovered is supposed to say 27th Nov instead of 7t Nov.
[This entry was edited by Iowa Tom on Thursday, November 23, 2006 at 10:40:58 AM.]