Spectacular UNID

Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Fri, 27 Feb 1998 08:41:33 -0600

At about 11:47:30 UTC (5:47:30 a.m. CST), as I was looking 
between Cosmos 1980 Rk (#19650, 88-102B) and Cosmos 1005 Rk 
(#10861, 78-45B), a very bright flash from near the zenith 
caught my eye.  I watched up there and very soon saw a flash 
in the -4 to -6 magnitude range.  The object then in a few 
seconds became visible briefly at about +3, then in a few 
seconds there was another -4 to -6 flash.  The object was
southbound from near the zenith.  It was visible off and on, 
a couple of more times perhaps -1 to -2, and in between the 
brighter ones sometimes +2 or +3, for possibly as long as a 
minute.  I wasn't able to get any kind of period, because it 
was unexpected and the flashes and brightenings were not 
clearly regular.  (Binoculars would have helped a lot in 
this case!)

I've just run predictions down to mag. +7.0 with no good 
candidates.  I thought it might be Iridium 27, but it is not 
showing up in even these faint predictions.  Any suggestions?

Beautiful morning -- I saw more than a dozen objects at 1-power
(and would probably have seen more if I'd had predictions to
mag. +4)!  TRMM/ETS7 Rk (#25065, 97-74C) was quite bright; its
period now is about 26 seconds.  It has a bright flash in the
middle of its broad maximum.  I saw more than one full cycle
of Cosmos 1833 Rk (#17590, 87-27B), so its period now must be 
on the order of 90-150 seconds.  Its minimum coincided with its
culmination.  Observed DirecTV 2 (or DBS 2) Rk (#23193, 94-47B),
which Alan Pickup has projected to decay at the end of April.
And I saw a minor (about +2) flare from Iridium 54.

Now what I did not see....  Last night I looked, apparently 
about 4 or 5 minutes late (due to not having time to prepare
well for observing), for the decaying Iridium 42 CZ platform.  
This morning I had predictions for Cosmos 1043 in twilight but 
did not see it either.  (I had seen it twice on Monday and 
again Tuesday evening.)  Some scattered thin clouds had also 
appeared by that time which might have caused me to miss it if
it was on time with my prediction.

This morning's observations were from near my apartment, which
I believe is at 30.3086N, 97.7279W, about 150 meters above sea

Ed Cannon
Austin, Texas, USA