Blinking satellite

Allen Thomson (
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 12:05:56 -0700

Larry Klaes <> forwarded:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Mon, 12 Aug 1996 18:37:55 -0400
>From: Eric M. Bram <>
>Subject: Re: Did Anyone Else See This ?

>Harry Taylor wrote:


>I saw something interesting once, and supposed it was some sort of 
>satellite, but never figured out what. Gazing upward from Big Bend park 
>in Texas one night in later December 1978 I saw a star-like white light 
>flash on and off about 5 times in rapid succession in about 1 second -- 
>like five white "dits", about the brightness of a 3'rd or 4'th magnitude 
>star. Then about a minute later another 5 flashes about 30 degrees to the 
>south of that, then another minute later yet another 5 flashes, a further 
>30 degrees or so to the south.

[more snip]

  This is just top-of-the-head, but Soviet/Russian LEO geodetic satellites
(currently called GEO-IK or Musson) had/have xenon strobes to help precisely 
determine their position on the sky.  The flash pattern is said to be
strings of nine at a p.r.f. of only 1/3 Hz, but I suppose it might have been 
different on earlier models.

  Reference: Europe & Asia in Space 1993-1994, by N.L. Johnson and D. M. 
Rodvold; Kaman Sciences Corporation, 1500 Garden of the Gods Rd, Colorado
Springs, CO, USA 80907, pp. 191-192