Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Key's Amateur Astronomer

Marathon, Florida
24 42.40 081 N 05.68 W

I've earned the reputation as the amateur astronomer of Book Key Harbor.  That is because I keep track of International Space Station flyovers and Iridium flares, and announce them on the Cruiser's Net on VHF channel 68 each morning.   Others in the harbor who manage to see these events with help of my info are grateful.  I enjoy doing it and it's dead simple.  I have an app on my Droid called Predisat that tells me exactly the times of major satellite flyovers and Iridium flares.

Also, since 1995, I've used APOD as my web browser home page .   APOD  gives wonderful information on Earth, space, and cosmology, in deligtful and easy to digest daily doses. For exmple, the picture below.  It is not an artist's impression.  It is a photo of the night side of Saturn.  Fantastic.

Image Credit: Cassini Imaging TeamSSIJPLESANASA

So, what is an Iridium Flare?   The Iridium Satellite phone company has a network of 77 satellites in very low orbits.  Sometimes, in the twilight hours, their solar panels act like signal mirrors.   They reflect sunlight down to a point on the earth.  If you are at that spot, you see a bright flash in the sky lasting about 1 second.    It's really cool.

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