Re: Pinpoint flashes (fwd)

Jim Varney (
Mon, 15 Jul 1996 21:04:05 -0700

>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 23:28:18 -0400
>From: Mark C. Taylor <mct@INTERRAMP.COM>
>To: Astro List <>
>Subject: Pinpoint flashes
>My wife and I were sitting on our porch tonight (7/12) in Sunnyvale, CA,
>and each of us saw multiple STATIONARY PINPOINT lights flash quickly on 
>and then off (<1 sec each) in the immediate vacinity of the Big Dipper 
>(one near the end of the handle, one inside the bowl)  There were 3-4 
>distinct "blips" (one MAY have been a short meteor), all of which occured 
>in the 10 minute span from 2240-2250 PDT.  The "blips" were brighter than 
>the surrounding "dipper stars" at their max.  The light ranged from clean 
>white to a "peachy" off-white.  This was a REALLY unusual looking display.

I ran my file of 1,315 satellite elements for this date, time and location.
Only one satellite during this time period traversed from the handle through
the bowl, and that was MOS 1 (17527, 87- 18A).  MOS 1 traversed this region
of sky as described from 2248 to 2254.

MOS 1 has been reported as flashing but only at 5th magnitude.  However, it
is possible that glints could have been seen.  The next night I saw 
very bright glints -- mag 0 -- from Cosmos 1900 in the same part of the sky.
The effect was like a flashcube popping.  Last night Cosmos 1900 in the east 
was much dimmer and showed no glints.  Given that the sun set in the northwest, 
the sun-satellite-observer angle may be favorable to specular reflections 
off of solar panels or other flat surfaces.

I offer this only as a possibility.  It isn't meant to be a definitive answer.

 -- Jim

Jim Varney      |  121^ 23' 54" W,  38^ 27' 28" N   |           Sacramento, CA
Member, SeeSat-L|            Elev. 31 ft.           |