I Need your help again

Wayne T Hally (meteors@eclipse.net)
Wed, 7 Jul 1999 12:34:39 -0400

Hi folks,
	This is meteor observer and satellite lurker Wayne once again coming to 
you with hat in hand needing assistance. Unfortunately, to meteor 
observers, satellites are to a large part an insidious form of light 
pollution. For example, inexperienced observers can be fooled by an Iridium 
flare, although those that have been around the block for a while learn to 
recognize the color, angular velocity, and flare brightness profile (and I 
always have a printout of the nights flares at hand when observing). 
Unfortunately that is not applicable to out of control Iridiums which can 
flash at unexpected (for GSOC at least) times, locations and with brightess 
profiles that are not the usual. These can be very difficult to categorize 
as meteor or satellite. And various flashers can also be a challenge for 
the novice confusing them with what are called "point meteors" i.e meteors 
that are arriving head on toward the observer and therefore have no 
apparant motion. Now that I have been laid off (after 19 years) I intend to 
get one of the prediction programs up and running on my computer, so 
hopefully I won't be such a pest in the future :->
	So with all that said, here are today's challenges:
	The first is an old one..and I suspect only a few of you, if any will be 
able to help me, if anyone can at all. This event occurred on 1998 Dec 14, 
at 08:36:48 UT
(03:36:48 EST). At that time I observed...THROUGH THE CLOUDS...what I 
recorded as a -8 Magnitude meteor. The position is a little fuzzy, since it 
was through clouds, but the coordinates are close since Aldebaran was 
nearby and I used that as a reference. The position I recorded was Azimuth 
271 Elevation 20, or RA 4h 8m, Dec +13.7. My location is  NJAA OBSERVATORY, 
COORDINATES: 74d 53' 54" West   40d 40' 52" North
ELEVATION: 830 feet (253 Meters). Because it was through the clouds, I was 
unable to determine a direction of motion...and the Mag -8 must be 
considered a minimum brightness. This limits it to a very few satellites I 
expect..and the fact that it was low in the west a few hours before dawn 
also would seem to eliminate satellites, but I just thought I'd check if 
anything was nearby and/or likely. This was on the peak night of the 
Geminid meteor shower, so it is possible it was a Geminid or a sporadic 
meteor...I was unable to determine which since due to the clouds I didn't 
really pick up any motion. However it was a busy meteor night with 176 
Geminids, 29 from other showers, and 45 sporadics counted in 4.75 (chilly) 
hours so that certainly is possible.
	The second one is not a meteor related sighting, rather it's an UNID for 
me. On July 5th 1999 at 22:18 EDT (02:18 July 6 UT) from the same location, 
I was out checking sky conditions when I observed a bright satellite 
(~+0.5) about 40 degrees elevation in the WSW moving from NW to SW. This 
was a slow moving satellite, much slower than ISS or MIR, hence it must be 
in a pretty high orbit, which is why the brightness surprised me. A check 
of the GSOC page showed nothing at that time...in addition, few objects are 
that bright. Any idea what I saw?
	I actually had a third challenge, but I seem to have misplaced the 
information, so I'll have to post that when I find it....so see, y'all got 
off easy :->
	Thanx in advance for any assistance you can give me

Meteor Wayne