Re: Nov. 16, 1998 re entry

From: Alan Pickup (
Date: Thu Jun 08 2000 - 13:21:00 PDT

  • Next message: Leo Barhorst: "Obs 07 June 2000"

    Thanks to Linda Jacobson for the direct email, and to Bart for
    forwarding it to the list.
    The video mentioned in this query appears to show two different
    "fireballs" imaged consecutively on the evening of 1998 Nov 16 between
    17:34 and 17:38 EST (ie 22:34 to 22:38 UTC). 
    Each "fireball" lasted many seconds; indeed the first appears in shot
    for some 52 seconds and the second for almost twice as long. There is no
    mention of the direction of observation or of the (changing?) scale of
    the image. However, if either of these were a re-entering satellite, I
    would have expected it to traverse a much greater distance of sky (if
    not the entire sky) during the period. As it is, my guess is that
    neither moved more than 30 degrees at most, and possibly much less.
    It is obvious, too, that neither object could have been the same as that
    mentioned in the archived SeeSat posting (further west at a different
    time and with a duration of 1-2 seconds). As I indicated at the time,
    the latter could not have been a re-entry and was very probably a
    meteoric fireball. Although the Leonids shower was active at the time,
    none of the events could have been a Leonid fireball - the radiant was
    well below the horizon.
    Assuming that the clock was set accurately, the Sun would have been 9
    deg high in the WSW at viewed from Punta Gorda, Florida at that time.
    I am convinced that the second object is an aircraft condensation trail
    which is shining brightly via forward scattering as it is viewed in the
    western sky above the Sun. The Sun itself is hidden behind a building
    whose roof appears as black (ie shadow) against the bright sky near the
    end of the footage of the first object. While the second object is
    moving to the left, the first appears to be descending almost vertically
    in the field though, IMHO, it too is an aircraft plus foreshortened
    contrail heading in horizontal flight away from the camera. A few frames
    of the second event appear to show an object detached from the beginning
    of the contrail - I take this to be the aircraft itself, perhaps
    glinting in the sunlight. It is, after all, common for there to be a gap
    between an aircraft and the visible formation of its trail. This second
    "fireball" seems to disappear as it moves behind trees that also appear
    in black profile against the bright sky.
    One final point, I know of no satellite re-entries near the time in
     Alan Pickup | COSPAR 2707:  55d53m48.7s N  3d11m51.2s W   156m asl
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