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 Re-entry Bulletin - January 14, 2003

STARSHINE 3 WILL BURN UP LIKE A METEOR IN THE EARTH’S UPPER ATMOSPHERE WITHIN ABOUT ONE WEEK. We invite all interested parties to be watching for Starshine 3's flaming fireball as it moves across the sky. Click here: Starshine 3 - Orbit Decay to see how this satellite's descent rate is accelerating. Click here for the latest official predictions of WHEN and WHERE Starshine 3 will flame out. Please note that these predicted re-entry times are followed by a Z. That means they are listed in Universal Coordinated Time, or the time at the Greenwich Observatory in London, England. If you live on the North American Continent, Click here for Official U.S. Time so you can determine the difference between your time zone and Universal Coordinated Time. Click on the heading entitled, UTC in the lower right corner on that web site to find Universal Coordinated Time at the Greenwich meridian, then hit your back button and click on your own time zone to find the difference. Write down that difference for future reference. If you live on another continent, you will need to ask your teacher or advisor to find the difference between your time and Universal Coordinated Time. Click here for a ground trace map of the Starshine 3 satellite’s final half orbit. The yellow portion of the trace shows the path along which flameout is most likely to occur.  If you are located in a swath that extends 500 miles (800 kilometers) on either side of this yellow trace, you may have a chance of seeing the fireball. 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 ACTUAL FLAMEOUT.

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.

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. Click here for some suggestions from expert astrophotographer George Varros of Mount Airy, Maryland, USA for how to take images of the fireball with any of those types of cameras. If you have questions about these suggestions, please send an email to George at

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.We will be able to use this information to refine the accuracy of future orbit predictions.

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Last Updated: January 14, 2003