TiPS on 7-23-96 UT

R.B. Minton (
Tue, 23 Jul 1996 11:42:11 -0600

I observed TiPS visually from 03:37 to 03:39 UT with a 16 inch aperture F/4.5 
reflector (Dobsonian), hand-guided, using a wide-angle eyepiece at 50 power.  
TiPS was in the West moving N to S from an elevation of 48 to 29 deg.  I did 
not find it until some 4 min. after it might have had bright specular reflec-
tions (on the same azimuth as the sun).  Not surprisingly, I observed no 
flashes brighter than mag. 10.  But what I did see was real eye candy:
An exquisitely fine, perfectly straight, silvery line with a pinpoint of light 
at each end.  Both masses were flashing irregularly from 0.5 to 4 Hertz.  They
were not flashing in unison.  When not flashing, the masses could not be seen.
For each mass, the flashes were all about the same - mag. 10 for the lower, 
and mag. 11 for the upper.  The flashes had very short attack & decay times 
characteristic of specular reflections.
Based on this and earlier observations of brighter & slower flashes, I get the
impression that both masses have lots of small flat surfaces, and the lower one
has a flat bottom.  The rapid flash rate during the entire interval suggests 
that orbital motion alone is not responsible - I entertain the thought that the
masses are spinning.

R. B. Minton