Cosmos 2264 brilliant !

Bjorn Gimle (
31 Jul 1995 19:10:22 GMT

The decaying Cosmos 2264 (#22808) still runs very close to
predictions from recent elsets, which in itself is quite
astonishing, with the much lower-than-expected ndot2 values.

But perhaps even more astonishing is its brilliance !
I have been able to see it clearly on our Nordic light blue
skies, yesterday at 20:18 UT, with the Sun at -5.5 elevation,
and only Vega visible with the naked eye ! I estimated the
magnitude at -1 to -2, and there is no variation during a pass,
or from day to day.

My passes are at favourable phase angles, but even so it has
been about two magnitudes brighter than QuickSat predictions,
which are usually quite accurate.

A wild speculation : If there is an onboard orbit correction
system, running continously to account for the low decay rate,
can it produce a light brighter than the reflected sunlight ?
How can its fuel last for months ? Can any of you see the
part of orbit that is in Earth's shadow ? Can those of you, who
have computer-aided tracking, actually watch the satellite in
a high-power telescope to find out what makes it so spectacular ?

And, finally, does anybody know if the atmosphere is unusually thin
at 200-300 km height now ?

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