USA 32 + Iridium 27 Strobe Lights

Mir16609 (
Wed, 8 Apr 1998 22:32:17 EDT

Due to thunderstorms, clouds and a nearly full moon these were the only 2
objects I ovserved this evening.  

USA 32 passes under alpha and beta Gemini at 21:41:30 EDT (01:41:30 UT  9
April).  While it was between the Geminis, it flashed like a strobe twice.
After it passed beta-Gemini it seemed to strobe in rapid succession for about
3-4 seconds.  It was probably no brighter than a +1 but through 10x50s it was
an unusual sight.

I didn't think that I would be able to observe Iridium 27 due to clouds in the
area.  It was to ascend straight up from the horizon at nearly due north
(~Az=353 deg) and exit into the earth's shaow a few seconds after passing
Polaris.  At 21:58:30 EDT  (01:58:30 UT  9 April) I observed a flash at about
a mag -2 to -3 - like a strobe (very bright, suddenly for a moment, then inv).
The pattern repeated at about a 3 second cycle until the shadow exit at about
22:01:10 EDT.  This must be Iridium 27's equivalent of a flare. 

Don Gardner
76.8419 W, 39.1796 N,  34m ASL