New Subscriber, with an observation: Mir Debris?

Robert Sheaffer (
Wed, 28 Aug 1996 10:21:33 -0700

Hello, my name is Robert Sheaffer. I live in San Jose, California (the
"Silicon Valley"), and work as an engineer in the data communications
area. I specialize in firmware for ISDN-related systems. I have also been
an amateur astronomer, and a skeptical invesitgator (some would say
"debunker") of UFO claims, for many years. To find out more about me,
see my home page, whose address is in the signature file below.

My location is "approximately" 37 deg 17' 19" north, 121 deg 59' 09" west.
And now that you know where I am, if you're wandering in the neighborhood
with your GPS receiver, please drop by for tea! (No fair looking me up
in other sources!) I wonder if anyone could actually do that???

Recently I have been using Quicksat, Skymap, and STSplus to generate
predictions of satellite passes, with fairly good success and accuracy.
I was using the elements at "", but was puzzled by the
many satellites that turned up unexpectedly! I now realize that most of
these are the "classified" ones, and using the latest (or almost latest)
Molczan elements, I'm getting a pretty good match to the real world.

Because I'm usually trying to do a zillion things at once, I have relatively
little time to spend on any one. But when I'm home, and when the sky is
clear, I can usually peek out and see what's there. I have binoculars
and telescopes to use, if necessary, although I haven't done any
satellite viewing with optical aid (yet!). The skies are pretty clear
here around San Jose (near the south end of the San Francisco Bay, much
clearer than near the foggy Golden Gate).

If anyone knows of any interesting events that might be observable from
my location, let me know and if I can see anything, I'll post my observations.
However, my schedule generally does not permit me to observe after
midnight, Pacific Time.

Now, for my first contribution to the list:

Last night, my ladyfriend and I were watching the pass of the MIR Complex
at approximately 20:15 local time (Aug 28 03:15 GMT). We were surprised
to observe a second object pass nearly overhead along the same path,
whose transit was approx. 20:17. The object was fairly bright, approx
mag 2 - 2.5. The sky was not yet fully dark, the limiting magnitude
being about 3.5. 

Now, according to Quicksat using the Molczan elements that were current
as of 8-24, the only other objects visible would be a long parade
of "Mir debris". The best fit seems to be 23913 "Mir debris LB". Other
possibilities might be 23873 "Mir debris KA" and 23924 "Mir debris LL".

What does the list think? Could this "Mir debris" *really* be Magnitude 2??