Marco Langbroek
Image taken:
Jan. 3, 2010
Location:
Leiden, the Netherlands
Details:
The latest of several flares by GOCE I observed. It made a zenith pass, zipping close to M31 at mag. +4 to +5 and then flaring briefly to mag. +2 at 17:24:23.15 UTC. It was nice to watch. GOCE is in a very low orbit and moves very fast: the flare almost looks like a meteor to the eye. The flare was caused by the 67.5 degree panel and the time yields a flare angle of 93.6 degree and tilt of 51.9 degree. The 93 degree angle is consistent for all GOCE flares I so far observed (theoretically, that angle should be 90 degrees, i.e. at the moment of culmination when the sun-observer-satellite flight direction makes a square angle). It corresponds to within a few seconds of local culmination. The miss distance to the theoretical central flare path (quite large in this instance: some 175 km!) doesn't really seem to matter with regard to the flare brightness: they always come out at +2 to +3 (even when, as in this case, the tilt is off from 67.5 degree by over 15 degrees). As can be seen from the brightness profile, the flare peak is slightly asymmetrical.
 
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