False NOSS triplets; two flashing geosynchs in one FOV

From: Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Date: Fri Jul 16 2004 - 06:39:09 EDT

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    I went to watch the NOSS 3-2 pair (03-054A,C; 28095, 28097), and
    there was a third object traveling along with them, forming a 
    nice triangle.  It was above them, same magnitude, very similar
    apparent velocity, but through the pass it very gradually gained
    on them and finally moved out ahead of them.  It turned out to
    be Cosmos 785 (75-116A, 08473).
    Like Randy John, I also managed to see the NOSS 2-1 triplets,
    due to the help of Mike having his scope aimed at them.  I had a
    very difficult time finding them with the 8x42.  I guess they've 
    engaged a stealth mode, because just a week or so ago they were 
    very easy to see.
    Utter confusion!  I went looking for Superbird A (89-041A, 20040).
    It flashed.  Then in roughly 22 seconds it flashed again, and
    again.  There were crossers.  Then, something flashed about four
    degrees to its right!!  Then in about 22 seconds, that one 
    flashed again!  Good grief!  Mike asked where to aim the scope,
    and I gave Superbird's coordinates, saying the other one was to
    the right (west) of it.  Before long Mike was saying that the 
    one he was watching at those coordinates was flashing every 22.4 
    seconds.  The one on the right was Superbird!  Ack!  I scanned 
    my flashing geosynch predictions.  Finally I saw that TVSat 1 
    (87-095A, 18570) was about four degrees east of Superbird.  I 
    finally checked my stopwatch and found that the first one, that 
    I had thought was Superbird, was flashing every *24* seconds.  
    (I had three 24.00-second clicks in a row.)  That matched TVSat 1.  
    Fred was with us, and I had pointed out the star, but he couldn't 
    find them, he didn't see any of it.  Finally after the fact, in 
    looking at the star charts, I had told him kappa Virginis, when 
    the correct star had been iota Virginis!  Sorry Fred!  ...  The 
    two satellites flashed at almost the same time at about 3:44:30 
    July 15 UTC, both just west of iota VIR.
    Mike was watching Viking (86-019B, 16614), and its maxima got
    brighter as it went north.  Finally it did some very bright 
    flashes, easily visible without binoculars.
    USA 32 (88-078A, 19460) was easily visible without binoculars 
    for much of its near-zenith pass, and it did one of those 
    ten-second mad-flashing events as it approached culmination,
    reaching at least as bright as +2.0.
    We were beginning to get ready to leave.  I looked at my next
    to last Quicksat prediction, something northbound kind of low 
    in the WNW.  I found it - flash, flash, flash, flash!  A rapid 
    flasher!  Mike and Fred were saying, "Where is it?!"  Finally 
    they found it.  Its flash period was almost too fast to count.  
    Mike said, "Is that the new Zenit?"  I checked my prediction 
    again -- Oh, yeah, it's 04-21B (28353)!  D'oh!  Fred said that 
    was a very good one for the end of a session.  Sometimes, too 
    many things happen too fast.  (E.g., the four or five, or 
    maybe six crossers while watching TVSat 1 and Superbird.  Well,
    three of them were the NOSS 2-3 triplets.)  I've got to get 
    those 4x21 binoculars, a narrow-field model, so I won't see so 
    many interlopers....  Just use the 8x42 on gibbous/full Moon 
    BCRC: 30.315N, 97.866W, 280m.
    I think I've coined a new term: "pre-IDs".  They're the ones 
    we see, for which we don't have predictions.  Then if we ID 
    them later, good; if not, then they become "un-IDs" (or the 
    more easily typed "unid").
    We've now had a string of clear, moonless nights.  Too bad I 
    have to go to work....  I'm too tired to do any more observing 
    this morning.  I'm going to have an observing (and Seesat-L 
    report writing) "hangover".
    Ed Cannon - ecannon@mail.utexas.edu - Austin, Texas, USA
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