Mystery image

From: Tony Beresford (dberesford@adam.com.au)
Date: Thu Jan 05 2006 - 05:13:19 EST

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     From Roy Tucker ( MPC 683 )
    A very interesting observation.
    Roy's site is  32.1554N, 111.0818W, 2475ft ASL
    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
    
         I have a very puzzling image here and I thought I might ask if anyone
    has a better explanation than I have come up with.
    
         The image appears to be a streak about 25 arcminutes long, oriented
    principally in the north-south direction. The image was acquired in
    scan-mode and every time a parallel shift occurs, there is a little jog in
    the trail. Knowing the distance between jogs and the frequency of the
    parallel shifts, I can say that the object is moving about 0.32 degrees per
    second. It should be possible to determine from the direction of the jog if
    the object is moving north or south. I believe the object is moving south
    but I haven't gone through the rigorous analysis of this before so I could
    be 180 degrees out. This is most likely some sort of earth-orbiting
    artificial satellite. The odd thing is the appearance of the streak. It
    begins very faintly as a sharp, narrow line and brightens rapidly, just like
    so many specular reflections of sunlight that we have all seen from
    satellites. After the brightness peak, it begins to fade, but instead of
    fading away as a sharp, narrow line, it becomes an expanding band, easily
    over twenty-five arcseconds across before it totally fades from view. Here
    is the astrometry of the approximate midpoint of the streak:
    
    COD 683
    CON R. Tucker, 5500 West Nebraska Street, Tucson, AZ 85757
    CON [gpobs@mindspring.com]
    OBS R. Tucker
    MEA R. Tucker
    TEL 3 x (0.35-m reflector + CCD)
    NET UCAC2
    ACK MOTESS astrometry
    
          Z03F01   C2005 12 29.20046 05 00 58.38 +12 16 36.7 683
    
         The only explanation that I can think of is that I recorded a rocket
    engine firing. The flare of light may be the expanding incandescent plume.
    
         Perhaps the satellite experts can identify an object in that vicinity at
    the time. Any speculations will be most welcome. Thank you for your
    attention.
    
                                     Best regards,
                                       - Roy
    Translating MPC format
    Date  December 29.20046 UT 2005 ( 4h 48min 39.7sec UT)
    RA  05h 00min 58.39s, Dec 12deg 16min 36.7sec
    
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