Satellites near stars

Robert H. McNaught, Anglo-Australian Observatory (RMN@aaocbn2.aao.gov.au)
Sun, 21 Jul 1996 15:50:29 +1000 (EST)

Bill Welker wrote

>Just as it passed, tangent to Arcturus, I caught a crisp flash, first from
>the Eastern most body and then from the Western most body.  I believe the
>source of the flash was from Arcturus! 

Although flashes have been noted for the TiPS end masses, the possibility of
a non-solar specular reflection from a satellite is fascinating.  For an
object in sunlight, however, I'd suspect it would not be bright enough.

Only vaguely related (I may have mentioned this before), in the early 1970's
whilst meteor observing, I watched a satellite of perhaps mag +3 approach
Vega.  It passed right over it and Vega blinked off for an instant! 
I've seen one asteroid occultation out of only a few attempts, but a satellite
occultation seems pretty extreme odds.  I'm not exactly sure what diffraction
would do, but the path may only have been a few metres wide.

Rob McNaught
rmn@aaocbn2.aao.gov.au