Re: Barium release 2/14 in Eridanus?

From: Ed Cannon (
Date: Sun Feb 15 2004 - 02:16:39 EST

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    >this evening (2/14) and looked up at 7:29 p.m. Central time 
    >an saw a small pale blue cloud about 1.5 degrees in diameter 
    >in Eridanus at RA 4h 10m, -8 degrees declination. The sky 
    >was otherwise cloudless. The puff remained in the same area 
    >but slowly expanded and faded over 35 minutes. I have heard 
    >of barium releases to study the ionosphere -- was this one 
    >of those? Your comments are appreciated!
    That was the exhaust from the circularization burn of the 
    upper stage of the IUS from the Defense Satellite Program 
    (DSP) launch several hours earlier from Cape Canaveral.  
    Mike McCants, Fred Blount, and I saw it from about 110-115 km 
    (70 or so miles) NW of Austin, from a dark site -- a roadside 
    in the country (because it was cloudy over our planned site, 
    Canyon of the Eagles, when we came to the "fork in the road").  
    Mike estimated the integrated magnitude to be possibly as 
    bright as +1.  The burn was at 1:22 UTC (7:22 PM CST).  At 
    the very beginning it was strikingly well defined, an 
    isoceles triangle with the two long sides slightly curved and 
    a very flat shorter edge on the WSW.  The triangular shape 
    persisted for quite some time, as the cloud expanded and grew 
    more diffuse and faint.  Fred and I thought that we were able 
    to see the light of the burn in Mike's 8-inch scope.  
    Ed Cannon - - Austin, Texas, USA
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