Impact on Met 3-1 r?

Ron Dantowitz (
Thu, 26 Dec 1996 17:32:34 -0500 (EST)

Hello everyone-

I rarely put out seesat-wide messages... but heres something odd I noticed
on 12/22/96...

12/22/96  the 09:11 UTC pass...
Boston, MA USA
Lat 42.36830 N
Lon-71.07330 W
Alt  +6m (ish!)

While tracking Met 3-1 r (#16194 / 85100  B) the satellite was "missing",
despite the elements being only 9 days old (still quite fresh, esp for a
"dead" object).  Our tracking telescopes were locked onto the correct
coordinates, but the satellite was TWELVE+ seconds late! (12.2 secs late).
In almost two years of tracking we have only seen this on active sats (ie
Mir, STS, and "dark" sats).  I haven't yet checked the element archives, but
has anyone else noticed this?  I have found the elements of 99%++ of all
other sats to be quite excellent... this anomoly was unusual, to be sure.

Thoughts:  An event on the booster?  Perhaps it is not a dead rocket?  An
impact?  Of course it * could * be an error on my part, but 12 seconds of
time is a HUGE chunk of sky for 3-1 r.  

Would like to hear your thoughts on this!

Other notes: Just discovered it is possible to see Mir by moonlight alone.
Last night's 22:37ish UTC pass was great, but after going into shadow, Mir
remained visible for almost 2 minutes by the full moonlight.  Mir looked
faint blueish, smokey colored... visible in the 7" and 12" tracking scopes...

Also: Does anyone have any info on Cos 1766?  It appears physically larger
than its 6m Molczan # would indicate.  It was HUGE.

Look fwd to hearing your thoughts on Met 3-1 r!

-Ron Dantowitz
Museum of Science, Boston