Decay observed???

From: Franz Strambach (franzl@licht-verschmutzung.de)
Date: Thu Jun 22 2000 - 19:11:11 PDT

  • Next message: tlj18@juno.com: "Re: Decay observed???"

    Dear members of SeeSat-L,
    
    
    
    as a member of DARK SKY Germany I normally spend my time fighting
    
    against light pollution and skybeamers. But if there's a little time
    
    left I enjoy satellite observing. (And - of course - I ALWAYS enjoy your
    
    interesting news in SeeSat-L).
    
    
    
    THIS NIGHT HAPPENED SOMETHING VERY UNEXPECTED:
    
    
    
    Leaving the railway station in Darmstadt I looked up in the sky in the
    
    east (up to Deneb and Altair). Suddenly an space object (there is no
    
    doubt, it WAS an space object!!!) came from the left into my field of
    
    view.
    
    IT HAD AN PLASMA TRAIL BEHIND IT!!! (colour of the plasma trail
    
    orange-white-red - perhaps the colour of Antares).
    
    It moved at the speed of an jet-aircraft flying after take-off at an
    
    altitude of 3000ft (BUT OF COURSE IT WAS NO AIRCRAFT! - although in the
    
    first moment I thought "Hey, oh no! There's an aircraft with a burning
    
    engine!")
    
    
    
    SECONDS LATER I REALIZED: "WOW!!! THIS COULD BE A REENTERING
    
    SATELLITE!!!!!" And just at this moment the object broke into to
    
    brighter parts and one dimmer part and started falling down. In this
    
    moment it lost it's brightness and I was no longer able to see it.
    
    
    
    But now some data for you (please allow an inaccuracy of +-10 degrees
    
    and of +-20 seconds in time, because I was looking at this wonderful
    
    phenomenon and not at my watch):
    
    
    
    Observation Location:
    
    Darmstadt, Germany (N 49 51  E 8 39)
    
    
    
    Time:
    
    2000-06-22 22:35:50 UTC (Thursday)
    
    (2000-06-23 00:35:50 central european summer time (=UTC+2h))
    
    
    
    First plasma trail observation:
    
    Az. 080 Alt. 40
    
    
    
    Object breaking into three parts (each with a little plasma trail behind
    
    it) and suddenly loosing all it's brightness - end of observation:
    
    Az. 120 Alt. 35
    
    
    
    ALL HAPPENED WELL BELOW EPSILON CYGNI (this star was at Alt. 50 degrees
    
    at this time) IN ALTITUDE AND THEN MAYBE PASSING THE DELPHINUS
    
    CONSTELLATION (due to severe light pollution I was unable to see
    
    Delphinus).
    
    
    
    I don't think this was a bolide "fireball" (4 reasons):
    
    1. Object was travelling at orbital speed (7-9 km/s)
    
    2. Bolides are bright and "thick", this object was dim and "thin"
    
    3. inclination of object-orbit was estimated 75-105 degrees
    
    (object was travelling from north to south)
    
    4. object had a THIN plasma trail behind it (not a "thick" one like
    
    bolides)
    
    (Magnitude and colour of object and plasma trail was like Antares.)
    
    
    
    I hope my above observations can help to identify this object. I hope
    
    this was an decay. It would be the first observation of a
    
    satellite-reentry in my life.
    
    
    
    So far for this night.
    
    Clear and dark skies for all of you
    
    Franz Strambach
    
    23.06.2000
    
    
    
    DARK SKY Germany
    
    www.Licht-Verschmutzung.de
    
    ("Licht-Verschmutzung" is the German word for "light pollution")
    
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