Re: Long March observed?

Eberst (
Sat, 12 Jun 1999 06:17:57 -0700 (PDT)

At 01:25 99/06/12 +0200, Gunnar wrote:
>Hi all,
>during a star party this evening we observed a bright and fast flasher in an
>obviously very low orbit. The object moved west to east just south of Arcturus,
>made its way through the southern parts of Hercules and entered Cygnus. The
>brightness varied rapidly from +1 mag to +5. The lightcurves pattern was very 
>complex but not irregular with varying maxima spaced by 2 to 4 seconds. One
>the impression of a body tumbling around more than one axis. Have never seen 
>before such an impressive flasher!
>Date: June 11, 1999, Time: 21:50 UT +-2 minutes (sorry, no better timing 
>possible because of circumstances), Location: Darmstadt-Eberstadt, Germany,
>+49.9N,8.6E, 120m.
>Is it possible that we observed the Long March upper stage of todays Iridium
>launch before its reentry?? Are there more passes over Europe before reentry?

The object you observed was 99-12E, a Globalstar rocket launched March 15.
The time was 21:44 (that's 21:50 UT +-6minutes)
My observation about 22hours earlier reported a period of brightness variability
of 2 seconds.   Incidentally, any rigid body can only tumble about one axis.
I'm pleased to solve a sighting from Eberstadt, since I was unaware that 
there is a stadt with my name :-)
best wishes 
Russell  Eberst  @   North: 55 degrees, 56 minutes, 55 seconds:
West:  3 degrees, 8 minutes, 18 seconds: 
43metres (150 feet) above sea-level.      172071 Observations