Re: A possible re-entry observation

Jim Varney (
Fri, 5 Apr 1996 00:16:38 +0100

Dr. Brian Hunter wrote:

>I observed what I believe was an object re-entering the atmosphere at 
>01:55:45 UTC April 4, 1996.  From my location, 44.25N 76.5W, the object was 
>north bound and burned out at about 01:55:55 near epsilon Ursa Major.  I 
>have a several reasons to suspect a satellite re-entry rather than a 
>- it was slower than the vast majority of meteors I have observed
>- it was very red compared to most meteors
>- many small fragments broke off and it left a long trail of reddish debris
>  it was more like a holiday firework than any meteor I've seen.
>- the track appeared to be consistent with a close to 90 degree inclination

Based on your description, I'd say it's probably a reentry.

I ran TLE's and didn't get any candidates.  If no one else comes up with any
likely objects, then it may be a small piece of untracked space debris.  
USSPACECOM does not track objects smaller than 10 cm.

A small bolt, nut or other hardware is capable of putting on the type
of show you describe.

 -- Jim
Jim Varney      |  121^ 23' 54" W,  38^ 27' 28" N   |           Sacramento, CA
Civil Engineer  |            Elev. 31 ft.           |