Re: Pinpoint flashes

CmdrJaycee@aol.com
Tue, 16 Jul 1996 11:16:36 -0400

On July 15, Larry Klaes reported he and his wife had 
observed: 

>>>>> multiple STATIONARY PINPOINT lights flash quickly on and then off (<1
sec each) in the immediate vacinity of the Big Dipper (one near the end of
the handle, one inside the bowl)  There were 3-4 distinct "blips" (one MAY
have been a short meteor), all of which occured in the 10 minute span from
2240-2250 PDT.  The "blips" were brighter than the surrounding "dipper stars"
at their max.  The light ranged from clean white to a "peachy" off-white.
 This was a REALLY unusual looking display. <<<<<

Responding in a note posted later that day, Jim Varney indicated he had done
a check and found that:

>>>>>Only one satellite during this time period traversed from the handle
through the bowl, and that was MOS 1 (17527, 87- 18A).  MOS 1 traversed this
region of sky as described from 2248 to 2254.<<<<<  

He added further that:

>>>>>MOS 1 has been reported as flashing but only at 5th magnitude.  However,
it is possible that glints could have been seen. <<<<<

I plead guilty to being the newcomer Walter Nissen quoted recently asking him
to suggest a  "TOP 10" list and, being new, I have been very reluctant to
jump "into the fray" - so this is my first post to SeeSat.  But MOS 1 has
been one of the satellites I have been observing regularly since joining the
SeeSat-l list a bit over a month ago.  One night I was out looking for Resurs
1-3 r and accidentally stumbled upon what later turned out to be MOS 1.  In a
note I sent at the time to an AOL friend and SeeSat veteran (who had in fact
"introduced me" to SeeSat and the VSOHP to my attention), I described MOS 1
as "one weird satellite."  I further suggested it put on the kind of show
that no newcomer should have to confront right off the bat, at least not when
it comes to considering getting involved in timing falsh pattern goes.

Since discovering MOS 1, I found it passes over my house in the suburbs of
Washington DC every night sometime after 10 pm EDT (it rises a little later
each night), traveling slightly retrograde from south to north.  It appears
out from the Earth's shadow in the constellation Ophiuchus and soon achieves
what I "guesstimate" to be mag. 2.5 or so (possibly brighter).  It remains
naked eye for about 8 seconds and then dims to mag 5 or dimmer (usually
requiring binoculars to follow it).  It remains binocular for about 20
seconds (making it very hard to follow if one misses its first appearance).
 That cycle then repeats.  

During the dim parts of its pass, I've noted regular rapid glints reaching
perhaps mag 3.5 to 4.   It seems to me that the glinting becames more visible
past maximum elevation (after it crosses into the northern sky) and, on
occasion, as it traveled through the vicinity of the two Dipper's, several
very bright glints would occur- perhaps reaching that peak mag 2.+ it
achieves earlier in its pass.  

Then, again, I am new to all of this and these are still "guesstimates."

Inexperience aside, however, I have seen MOS 1 enough times  by now to
suspect that, while it won't explain all of the pinpoint flashes Larry and
his wife observed during the 10 minutes he mentions, it may well be
responsible for one or two of them.

Jim Cook (CmdrJaycee@aol.com)