WIRE wildly flashing

Jim Varney (jamesv@softcom.net)
Sat, 6 Mar 1999 19:19:39 -0800

Observed WIRE (25646U 99011A) tonight (Mar 7 1999 03:01 UTC) with 10x50 
binoculars.  North to south zenithal pass.  Flash pattern wild and complex. 
Very EGP (Ajisai)-like but less predictable.  As it was rising in the north 
it had a FF__FF character; as it approached the zenith and went into the 
south the flash pattern was ffff of unequal brightnesses.  Some flashes 
were quite bright, maybe 3rd mag and visible with naked eye.  One flash was 
a real zinger in binocs, maybe 1st or 2nd mag, in the south at approx 70 
deg altitude.

Just south of the zenith I think I counted 20 flashes in 9.63 sec, for a 
period of 0.49 seconds.  There is uncertainty in the count, it was 
difficult to keep up.  News accounts report a tumble rate of 1 second -- 
did a see a half period?

If visual appearances mean anything I don't think they are going to regain 
control of this one.

Jim Varney
Member, Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society
Sacramento Iridiums www.softcom.net/users/jamesv/index.htm