Flaring Geostationary Satellite Season Near

With the moon full in early March, it may be best for northern observers to look for flaring geosats in late February. The best dates for 50N-30N latitude are about March 1-8, very moony times. [Note: equatorial and southern hemisphere viewers, the best dates are equinox and into early April]
If you’re wondering, near the equinoxes geostationary satellites are known to flare up in brightness, some of them reaching naked eye visibility. This is a great way to see a target that is about 22,000 miles (36,000 km) up.
If there’s interest, reply to this post and I’ll post more info and links to help see these.


Very much interested.

Very glad to hear that! This will have be a bit of scratching the surface. Note there are a few articles out there on why this happens, I’m more trying to help you see it for yourself.
GEO flares (to eye, and to tracking cameras):

same, stationary camera:

Old seesat-l posts by Ed Cannon and Jeff Umbarger with best dates and calculators:
A description of one of my best geosat nights:
I’ll let others elaborate on the imaging tricks to use.
For visual, my usual method is to identify star fields to act as a fence and watch them pass in a telescope. And once you find the first one, or little group, you can just watch them until they fade in the shadow or track back over to that star group and wait for the next batch. One I use in the Spring is a little group of 4 stars in Sextans at about 10h21m R.A., -5.4 Dec. The geosats appear to pass right through it for my latitude. They will be close for most of CONUS. Or, use the calculators in the links above to determine your best declination in the sky and pick a fence.

In a rare case, binoculars, here, may not do, as the satellites only appear to move as fast as we rotate, about 1 deg in 4 minutes.

That bears elaboration. You are not seeing the satellites going anywhere - that’s why they’re called geostationary. You are watching them (and us) rotate on the Earth while the stars stand still. Wrap your head around that.

This also doesn’t mean you can’t see them naked eye, but they really only get that bright long enough to notice against the faint constellations they appear in on the few nights around your best night, which is near full moon for all but equatorial observers this equinox. Note next one in September will be favorable for all but equatorial viewers.
Don’t do one HUGE mistake I did, which is look at the exact opposite part of the sky from the sun - that is where the satellites are completely in shadow. You want to see them about an hour before or after that.

Heavens-above is not really set up to do predictions of geosats. CalSky is. If you really want to get into the deep study of this, Mike McCants provides DOS driven software with good documentation to provide predictions in both hemispheres for flaring geosats:
36.140 95.984 650. TULSA1 2000 24.0 10
*** 2020 Feb 29/ 1 Sat evening/Sun morning *** Times are CST
Hrs Min Alt Azi Mag Hgt R A Dec Range EAng
43175 SES 14
20 55 25 118 12.4 22245 10 42.3 -5.4 24290 1.7
21 0 25 118 12.4 22245 10 47.3 -5.4 24290 0.9
21 5 25 118 12.4 22245 10 52.3 -5.4 24290 0.1
21 10 25 118 12.4 22245 10 57.4 -5.4 24290 -0.5 (1)
21 40 25 118 12.4 22245 11 27.4 -5.4 24289 -0.2 (2)
21 45 25 118 12.4 22245 11 32.4 -5.4 24289 0.4
21 50 25 118 12.4 22245 11 37.4 -5.4 24289 1.2
21 55 25 118 12.4 22245 11 42.5 -5.4 24289 2.1

Notes: 1)time missing here because SES-14 passes into shadow between 9:10 p.m. and 9:40 p.m., so the best time is 15-30 minutes before / after that.
That’s it for now, but if you have any questions, please reply.

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We had some very clear, cold nights over the last couple of days but the Moon was full and very bright.