Re: unusual satellite seen

From: David W. Bishop <bishop_at_utica.ge.com>
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 1995 09:05:09 -0400

> > The unusual thing was an illuminated area of the
> > sky above and below it, which moved in exact register
> > to it as it moved across the sky.
> > My guess is that it was causing a phosphorescent
> > effect. Does anyone know what satellite this
> > could have been?

Several years ago, while I was new to satellite watching, I was outside
at dusk on a partially cloudy night. The winds were out of the west, and
little puffy clouds were turning darker and darker against the fading
light.

As twilight was just ending I noticed a small white cloud which was going
south to north, not west to east like all the other ones. I whipped out
my binoculars looked at it and saw a rapidly rotating satellite in the
middle of it.

The "cloud" and the satellite were definitely associated with one another.
I followed them for about 2 minutes until I lost them in the trees. After
some searching with "predict", a C based program which took hours to run
on a VAX, I track it down to two possible candidates, both of which
were spend Cosmos boosters.

Occasionally boosters will have fuel left over after they make orbit. The
pressure builds up inside the rocket and it will outgass when something
hits it, or just because of expansion and contraction. The old Titan
boosters occasionally actually exploded, and Martin Marietta had to redesign
them so they wouldn't.

                            David Bishop

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Received on Fri Apr 28 1995 - 13:37:11 UTC

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