RE: USA 81 - Flasher?

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Tue Nov 11 2003 - 19:26:15 EST

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    Bruce MacDonald wrote:
    > I am certain of the position, but not the exact time.  I had 
    > been scanning the sky around eta Cassiopeiae from 18:07.
    The paths of USA 81 and Cosmos 2082 were very close near Cassiopeia, making it
    even more likely for you to have seen the latter.
    > don't think that I waited four minutes before following the 
    > object, but I don't have a record of it.
    In my experience, it is easy to lose track of time while waiting for an object
    to appear.
    Here's a tip: You started looking about 2.5 min before the predicted time, but
    USA 81's rate of orbital decay is so low, that elsets even a couple months old
    would have been accurate to within several seconds. 
    By starting your scan closer to the predicted time, say, 20 to 30 s early, you
    would have been less likely to lose track of the time. You would also have
    reduced the probability of tracking other satellites that might have shown up
    ahead of your target, on a similar track - that was not the problem this time,
    but it is all too common.
    Ted Molczan
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