Strange sight last night

Date: Mon Jun 12 2000 - 10:17:26 PDT

  • Next message: Allen Thomson: "Re: Strange sight last night"

    Greetings, all...
    I was out last evening assaying prospects for setting up the telescope to
    observe the Moon at around 20:45 when I noticed a very bright star-like
    object high in the western sky.  Now, being an astronomer and working for
    USNO I *knew* that Venus wasn't supposed to be there, but whatever this was
    persisted for perhaps a minute or so, much longer than an Iridium flare.  I
    was able to sight it in 7X50 binox, which confirmed it was actually there,
    but motion, if any, was fairly slight.  There appeared to be a slightly oval
    source to the light, but that was probably an artifact of the binox (they
    live in the trunk of the car and get beaten around alot) or my astigmatism.
    I decided to get the telescope (home-brew 8-inch Dobsonian) out and on it in
    a hurry...but I didn't hurry enough.  By the time I got it out of the garage
    a minute later the light had gone.
    Running several sat-tracking programs, the concensus was that Cosmos 382
    (04786 70103A) was in the right place at the right time.  Has anyone ever
    seen a bright long-lived "flare" off this bird?  Does anyone know what kind
    of satellite it is?  It seems to be in a fairly high orbit...
    Geoff Chester
    USNO Public Affairs Office 
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