Unexpected bright crossing of spysats

From: Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Date: Sat Jun 19 2004 - 17:16:02 EDT

  • Next message: Steve Newcomb: "obs 24680"

    So, Mike and Fred and I were watching USA 129 (96-072A, 24680).  
    It was easy to see without binoculars.  As it went past 
    culmination, another bright satellite appeared, climbing higher 
    in the west and approaching it.  They passed within a couple of 
    degrees, the W-to-E one just behind USA 129.  I kept tracking 
    the unid for quite a while as it went on to the NNE.  Finally 
    after the smoke cleared and the dust settled, Mike pointed out 
    that Quicksat predicted a very similar pass to what we observed
    -- for Lacrosse 3 (97-064A, 25017)!!  
    There was another bright pairing last night:  HST (90-036B,
    20580) and Lacrosse 4 Rk (00-047B, 26474).  Who wants to write
    a program that will search out satellite conjunctions?  They're 
    fun!  (Maybe there's already such a program?  If I have time to
    look at my Quicksat predictions in advance, I might notice them, 
    but usually I'm just reading the predictions in the dark and 
    looking up, just trying to keep up with all that's happening.)
    I lucked out and saw SCD 2 (98-060A, 25504), a small, octagonal, 
    spin-stabilized Brazilian satellite whose operational spin 
    is said to be 32 to 36 RPM.  It was flashing like mad for a few 
    seconds and then grew very faint.  Its flashing is probably 
    predictable.  Its spin axis is on the velocity vector (if that's 
    the correct terminology).  So its flat sides were still facing 
    us and the Sun at the required angle when I first looked at it.)  
    About four or five degrees in front of it (leading it) was Marco 
    Polo 2 Rk (90-074B, 20763).  Both were visible at the same time 
    in the 8-degree FOV of the 8x42.
    BCRC site: 30.315N, 97.866W, 280m.
    Ed Cannon - ecannon@mail.utexas.edu - Austin, Texas, USA
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