RE: Newbie question - retrograde

Ted Molczan (
Wed, 26 Feb 1997 12:35:07 -0500

Scott Ray asked:

>Are there any satellites with low-angle retrograde orbits?
>If so, please name a few easily viewable ones.

If you like extremely retrograde orbits, there were three 
mid 1960's launches in the U.S.A.'s OV series that went 
into 144+ deg inclinations. Here are the major pieces that 
remain in orbit:

65078A  1613  OV1 2
65078B  1616  OV1 2 r

66025A  2121  OV1 4
66025B  2122  OV1 5
66025C  2123  OV1 5 r
66025D  2124  OV1 4 r

66063C  2328  OV1 8 r

All of these payloads and rocket bodies are small, but
should be visible in binoculars. The 65078 objects have
a 400 km perigee height, so they should be easy to 
observe at least some of the time. All of these objects 
are included in my weekly *.n2l file, as are any of 
Israel's Ofeq objects, that may be in orbit.

Your message prompted me to review my observation
archive, and I found that I observed 66025A /2121
in 1988. At a range of 1650 km, and about 50 percent
illuminated, it was mag 7-7.5. It was rotating, with
a period of variation of about 30 s. There was one
flash to about mag 5. I used mounted 11x80 binoculars,
but 7x50s should have been okay. Also, I observed
from downtown Toronto, overlooking the city's main
street (Yonge), so my conditions were far from

65078A is the same as 66025A, so it should be visible.
Use a std mag of 6.2, based on my obs of 66025A.

Ted Molczan