RE: Unid Flasher

From: Ted Molczan (molczan@rogers.com)
Date: Sat May 04 2002 - 13:15:31 EDT


Paul J Henney reported:

> Just back in from spotting a slow moving flasher , passing through the
> "paws" of Ursa Major heading SSE to NNW at about 22 : 05 UT +/- 2
> minutes. Flashed up to mag 1 then down to inv. for about 10 
> seconds then back up to mag 1 with a short brighter glint. 
> Then faded into inv.
> 
> Using the bwgs.tle file I've tentatively ID'ed this as 87-006A

The direction of travel reveals a retrograde orbit, i.e. inclination
greater than 90 deg. 87006A is in a 74 deg inclination orbit, so it must
be ruled out.

Paul did not specify back or front paws, so I ran IDSat against the
approximate central co-ordinates of both, and found a good match, which
happened to pass through both:

ERS-1            3.5  2.0  2.0  5.0 v 25.7
1 21574U 91050A   02121.81971227  .00000436  00000-0  16707-3 0  5361
2 21574  98.4727 196.5026 0033990 291.3258  68.4299 14.35048400564597

I have 88 of Russell Eberst's observations of this object on file, and
in all but two, it was steady in brightness; however, both flashing 
points were observed on 2002 Mar 16. The period of variation was 10 s.
 
It was steady in Russell's most recent obs of 2002 Apr 06, but the 
observation of recent flashing adds weight to the identification 
of the this object as the one seen by Paul.

Finally, observers may wish to take note of the object's standard 
magnitude of 5.0, which I have just derived from Russell's observations.
previously, the std mag had been estimated at 6.2, based on the object's
dimensions.

I obtained a virtually identical result for ERS-2, using the 56 of 
Russell's observations in my file:

ERS-2            3.5  2.0  2.0  5.0 v 21.8
1 23560U 95021A   02122.40910120 -.00000642  00000-0 -22214-3 0  6453
2 23560  98.5501 197.2541 0001523  94.0301 266.1061 14.32234804367642

Ted Molczan


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