Iridium 18 is blinking

Clement Drolet (
Tue, 2 Jun 1998 00:11:07 -0400

I would like to confirm what others have already reported about the recent
strange behavior of Iridium 18. I was out tonight (2/6/98 02h19UT
(22h19EDT)) to observe a predicted -7.4 magnitude flare of Iridium 18 from
my location (46.853N,70.953W). Iridium 17 produced a flare as expected a few
minutes earlier, so I was staring exactly at the same place this flare
occured to watch Iridium 18 flare (Az 45, El 36). No flare occured but I
glimpsed from the corner of the eye a few rapid flashes east of Vega (Az 76,
El 42) less than one minute after the time of the predicted flare. I tought
at first it was a plane and didn't want to watch closer to avoid missing the
flare, but it couldn't be a plane since it disappeared so rapidly (roughly 5
degrees) and followed the exact path of Iridium 18.

Am I correct in assuming that Iridium 18 is now spinning on it's
nadir-to-zenith axis?

If so does anyone has an idea why the flashes are separated by 30 degrees
from the predicted flare?

Clement Drolet
Beaumont, Qc, Canada