Really old observation, would like help identifying

Date: Fri Feb 24 2006 - 05:41:18 EST

  • Next message: Kevin Fetter: "Re: Really old observation, would like help identifying"

    Hello to all. My name's Guillermo and I live in Puerto Rico. I'm a professor 
    at a regional college of the University of Puerto Rico. My area is physics.
    I'd appreciate some help identifying this very old observation which has 
    vexed me all this time. I think it may have been a geosynchronous satellite that 
    was rotating. It *might* just have been at the right distance and angle to be 
    visible at this extremely odd (for most satellites, I believe) time and 
    I don't have my exact observing position in latitude and longitude then, but 
    it was 6.2 miles east and 5.8 miles south of coordinates 18.4010 degrees 
    north, 66.1560 degrees west. This is in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
    The observation date and time were September 7, 1993, at aproximately 1:05AM 
    local time (5:05 GMT). (Yes, I've already been told this couldn't have been a 
    satellite, but please hear me out.)
    The observation consisted of a bright, motionless dot of light (like a star) 
    that appeared and disappeared repeatedly where there wasn't any visible to the 
    unaided eye before or after the event. It happened almost directly overhead 
    (yes, this sounds even worse) right smack in the middle of a square or diamond 
    made up by three stars of the Pegasus constellation and one of the Andromeda 
    constellation (right on Andromeda's border). These are pretty bright stars, and 
    lighting conditions in the outskirsts of San Juan are such that no other 
    stars were visible within this diamond. This means visible stars were at least of 
    magnitude 4.4. A waning gibbous moon was present towards the east from the 
    zenith. The dot appeared at the approximate equatorial coordinates 23h 36m 18s, 
    +22 33' 37". 
    Now, before the sighting, as I said, no stars were visible in that region 
    within the square. All of a sudden, a star popped up with a brightness comparable 
    to the four stars in that square (or at least it was visible). Then after 
    about 1/5 of a second, it disappeared. It reappeared and disappeared similarly 
    and repeatedly after that, with a period of about 5-7seconds between 
    reappearences (estimation). It did this for about 7-11 times (I didn't count, I was too 
    excited). However, I had binoculars on hand (Pentax 8x24) and was able to 
    locate the event. It was within an even smaller squarelike diamond within the 
    larger Pegasus/Andromeda square, very slightly offset to the northwest from the 
    center of this small diamond, and when "on" the dot looked about as bright and 
    small as one of the stars in this diamond. Through the binoculars I saw no other 
    blinking lights, and I was not able to distinguish any motion relative to the 
    other visible stars. What I saw looked just like a star. At no point did I 
    notice any change in the sky's illumination, nor any change in brightness of any 
    other star near or far from the event, and no other points of light were 
    going on and off. After the event, no light remained in the region I had seen 
    light go on and off, nor did I notice anything else. However, at some point I once 
    *may* have noticed a very little amount of motion through the binoculars, 
    along with a "double" or companion event. This last comment is pretty much 
    verbatim what I wrote down in the notes I jotted down that night.
    I say this might have been a geosynchronous satellite, as it was a motionless 
    point of light, for the time the event was visible. The distance between a 
    geosynchronous satellite and the Earth is several Earth diameters (about 10), 
    and given that the light was almost directly overhead in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 
    such a satellite may have been at just the right angle so that it just made it 
    out of the Earth's shadow.
    So, again, I'd really appreciate any help I can get in identifying this event.
    Subscribe/Unsubscribe info, Frequently Asked Questions, SeeSat-L archive:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Feb 24 2006 - 05:42:58 EST