Mystery streak

Allen Thomson (
Wed, 27 Mar 1996 15:40:30 -0800

   Here's an interesting thread from sci.astro.amateur which might or might 
not pertain to SEESAT-L interests.  If any satellite.watchers here know
what the "streak" was, it would be a kindness to tell the folks who observed 
it. (And I'd like to know too.)


From: (Scott)
Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur
Subject: Identity of Bright Streak near Big Dipper?
Date: Sun, 24 Mar 96 21:27:59 GMT

Location:  Huntsville, Alabama
Date:  3/24/95
Time:  1:05 - 1:20 AM CST

I noticed a bright, cloud-like streak (naked eye, perpendicular to the horizon 
- a little brighter than Hyakutake) approx. 1-2 deg long x 1/4 deg wide (whit 
in color ) located close to the open bowl of the big dipper below the line 
pointing to Polaris (RA 10h 30m, Dec 66 d 30 m).  It moved against the 
background stars during the time it was visible (approx. 4 deg horizontally 
towards Polaris).  It also had brighter 'knots' - three or four along its 
length visible in binoculars.  I assumed it was a high atmospheric or high 
orbital test of some sort (similar to a barium cloud release) or maybe 
propellant dumping from a rocket booster.  Anyone else see this or know what 
is was?

From: "Lee H. Pappas" <>
Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur
Subject: Re: Identity of Bright Streak near Big Dipper?
Date: 26 Mar 1996 21:57:07 GMT (Scott) wrote:

> [Scott's message]

I was assisting at the New England Science Center in Worcester, MA Saturday 
night, and a group of us saw the soemthing similar. This was around 11PM or so. 
We actually saw several of the 'streaks', including one like the one you 
described, and a fan-shaped arrangement of parallel streaks, which we viewed 
them through my Pronto, a C-8 and a Meade 7" refractor to which an SBIG CCD was 
mounted (and used to image the streaks.) The streaks did not move with the star 
field, and were visible for at least an hour, or so. The brightest was just 
below the bowl of Ursa Major, within the boundary of Ursa Major (very close to 
the Zenith.)

We pretty much discounted high altitude clouds or ice crystals. We settled on 
ionized atmosphere as our best guess.


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From: Steve Scampini <>
Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur
Subject: Re: Identity of Bright Streak near Big Dipper?
Date: 27 Mar 1996 15:39:03 GMT
Organization: Hewlett Packard Andover Site

I also saw those bright "streaks" while out doing the comet thing 
(location, Bedford Mass.)  I have never seen anything like them before...
I would love to find out more about them...they did appear "atmospheric".  

Steve Scampini