Image of John Vasquez of the Naval Research Laboratory John Vasquez of the Naval Research Laboratory prepares Starshine 1 for vibration test. Photo by
Michael A. Savell.

Starshine 3 Bulletin - January 5, 2003

Starshine 3 will burn up like a meteor in the earth's upper atmosphere in mid to late January 2003. Click here: Starshine 3 - Orbit Decay to see how this satellite's descent rate is beginning to accelerate. We are posting up-to-date predictions right here on this web site of approximately WHEN that event should occur. Click here for the latest official predictions of when Starshine 3 will flame out. As the final date approaches, we will also post more and more frequent estimates of WHERE the fireball should be visible. These predictions will change, as a result of last-minute solar activity, so you'll need to check this site frequently, right up to the time of the satellite's flameout.

We invite all of you who have polished mirrors for any of our satellites to be watching for Starshine 3's flaming fireball moving across the sky. If you are successful in witnessing Starshine 3's fireball, please send an email message to Gil Moore, Starshine project director, at, listing the time that you saw it and where you were standing when it happened. Please also describe what it looked like and where it was in the sky. Click here for Official U.S. Time so you can synchronize your wristwatch or stop watch before you go out to attempt to record the event. Be sure to click on your own time zone on that web site, if you live on the North American continent, or make the appropriate correction to your own time zone, if you live on another continent.

We also encourage you to try to RECORD this visually spectacular event, if you have access to a film camera, a digital camera or a video camera. In the next few days, expert astrophotographer George Varros from Mount Airy, Maryland, USA will be posting on this web site suggestions for how to take images with those types of cameras.

If you are successful in taking a film photograph or digital image or videotape of the Starshine 3 fireball, please send an email message to, stating that you have such an image. Be sure to list your location when you took the image, the direction your camera was pointed and the precise time that re-entry took place. Don't forget to include your email address, as well as your telephone or Fax number. We will contact you with specific instructions about where to ship your film or digital image or videotape. George Varros and a panel of other astrophotographers will authenticate all received images and select the best one of them. The winner will receive from the Starshine project a beautiful prize, consisting of an International Space Station model assembly kit.

And now for the fine print. We need to warn you that the mathematical odds of the Starshine 3 fireball being observed and/or photographed by anyone are very small, since 4/5ths of the earth's surface is covered by water, a substantial portion of the rest of it is frequently covered by clouds, and much of the rest of it is unpopulated. However, in spite of those odds, we will appreciate your making an attempt to help us determine precisely where Starshine 3 ends its orbital life.

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Last Updated: January 6, 2003