re: Possible New Brilliant Geosync Flasher

Philip Chien (
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 00:41:04 -0500 (Robert Sheaffer) said:

>Those of you reading the newsgroup "sci.astronomy.amateur" may have
>seen a recent posting by Greg Granville at Penn State University,
>describing a brilliant flash apparently from a geosynchronous
>flashing satellite, reaching an estimated Magnitude of ONE!!!


>However, if we assume that the sighting occurred earlier, approximately
>19:10 - 19:15, then Skymap places the DRIFTING geosynchronous
>satellite Anik D1 (Norad nr 13431) about 40 arc-minutes north
>of the Trapezium!! (My TVRO elements are a few weeks old, but I
>don't think they change as quickly as objects in lower orbit).

As a rule keps for higher altitude stable orbiting satellites tend to
remain stable because of less effects from the atmosphere and the Earth's

Anik D1 is a Hughes HS-376 spinner.  It's about 7' (2.16 meters) in
diameter, and 21' (6.62 meters) tall in orbit.  Since it's a relatively
small satellite, and a spin stabilized satellite, I would doubt that there
would be much differences in its brightness as it spins, and strongly doubt
that it could reach a magnitude of one.

As a guess - if it is a geosynchrnous flasher, then it's likely to be an
international satellite (e.g. a Gorizont) or a satellite which may or may
not exist (e.g. NRO).

If you can give an estimate of the longitude of the satellite in the
geosync belt, then I could look at the satellites in that area, and which
ones could be logical choices for flashers (large satellites with extended
solar arrays).

Philip Chien, KC4YER
Earth News - space writer and consultant
note new E-mail address -