RE: Observation of a satellite pair I was un-able to identify.

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Sat Apr 14 2012 - 03:56:05 UTC

  • Next message: Tony Beresford: "satobs April 13 @ 8597"

    Kevin Flanagan wrote:
    > I have for years been a long time lurker. 
    Welcome to SeeSat-L, Kevin.
    > While I am not do not currently
    > have the time to contribute I saw something tonight I feel is worth
    > reporting. I checked heavens-above before emailing, and based on the
    > following observation, I saw nothing that matches.
    > My location (*42.4403N, 71.7435W)*
    > Time a few minutes before 10:40 pm. EST on April 13th, 2012
    > Through scatter clouds I noticed two satellites traveling south to north
    > passing between mars and Regulus (one trailing the other by I would
    > estimate half the distance between mars and Regulus) heading into the ladle
    > of the big dipper between stars Phecda and Merak. I lost track of the pair
    > just before they reached the big dipper. They seemed (which I am sure is an
    > eye trick) to be wobbling as they traveled north, maybe tumbling and
    > varying in brightness enough to appear as a wobble? The lead was brighter
    > than the trailing satellite, I would guess (I am not good at this so use
    > wide error bars) ~mag. 2.
    > The reason I am posting this is, I could not find what appeared to be a
    > bright set of satellites for my location and time that matches what I saw
    > and it seems very strange that you have a pair of satellites flying in such
    > close formation.
    > I apologize for the quality and lack of an accurate time for the
    > observation, especially if this is a well known pair.
    It is indeed well-known: NOSS 3-5, consisting of 11014A / 37386 and 11014B / 37391. You did not find them on H-A,
    because they are normally fainter than the site's magnitude cut-off for predictions. All three generations of NOSS are
    well-known to flare brightly on occasion, as you observed tonight. You happened to catch them just as they exited
    eclipse, in LEO:
    You are right about the apparent wobbling being an optical illusion.
    Ted Molczan
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