RE: USA 193, ISS, and mystery flasher

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Sat Feb 16 2008 - 05:44:13 UTC

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    mbartley wrote:
    > USA 193 was nearly 5 minutes earlier than heavens-above's 
    > prediction for southern California tonight.  Little surprise 
    > for 5 day old orbital elements.
    > It passed roughly 1/4 degree north of the star beta Canis 
    > Major at Feb. 16 02:35:0.9.2.
    > It was fainter than predicted on heavens-above. I could only 
    > see it through binoculars, though naked eye limiting 
    > magnitude was probably only around 3 or so.
    Thank you for your observation.
    Unfortunately, the object you observed was not USA 193. You saw the 2nd stage of
    the Delta rocket that launched the Meteosat 1 weather satellite in 1977 (77108B
    / 10490). Predicted magnitude was 5.3 +/- 2, much fainter than USA 193, as you
    The prediction uncertainty of USA 193 was 1 to 2 min, so an object running 5 min
    early would have been doubtful. There is a lot of junk in orbit.
    You have good passes on the next few nights, should you wish to try again.
    > Also while looking out for USA 193, my father saw a flashing 
    > object which I never was able to find myself.  Our best 
    > estimates are that it was about 2 degrees west of Rigel, that 
    > it flashed three times, about 2 or 3 seconds between flashes, 
    > moving east roughly 1/4 degree between flashes, and no 
    > noticeable color.  Any idea what that was?
    So far, it remains unidentified. Do you recall how many minutes earlier it was
    than your obs of 77108B?
    Ted Molczan
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