Unknown 95058B and viewing accessories?

wblair@rmi.net
Thu, 6 Mar 1997 16:34:19 +0000

I'm a rank amateur at satellite tracking, so please forgive the following 
questions.  I observed NSSC #23705 Unknown 95058B last night.
It varied greatly in magnitude in an approximately 10 second cycle.
The brightness variations were smooth (no flashes) and magnitude varied
from barely visible to _very_ easily visible.  Have there been any theories 
presented as to what this might be?  A tumbling booster which carried
some classified satellite perhaps?

Months ago, while out looking at nebulas with my binocs, I saw  a 
very rapidly flashing satellite which was visible with the naked eye.  
The flashes were very pronounced and gave the impression of a rapidly 
spinning "disco ball" in orbit.  Do the laser ranging satellites with 
retro-reflectors have such characteristics?  Is there anything else that 
might produce such rapid and sharp flashes?  Unfortunately, I didn't 
record any data on the pass, so I couldn't determine what satellite I saw by 
using tracking software when I got home.

Here in high and very dry Colorado Springs, where the ambient temperature 
drops very rapidly after sunset, I've been freezing my buttocks off watching 
for those tiny moving lights in the sky.  Besides electric socks, thermal 
underwear, hat, and gloves, does anyone have any other comfort enhancing 
suggestions?  For documents carried to the field, I've found that using a 
three-ring binder to hold the satellite pass projections (SatSpy 2.0) is 
easier to handle than the same projections on a clipboard.  I use a AA size 
MagLite with a red lens and a disc of 20 lb paper covering that lens to 
read the projections.  Without the paper disc, it's way too bright.  Are red 
LED AA flashlights available?  For time keeping, I've got an Indiglo backlit 
digital watch that I set to WWV.  I use a 10x50 pair of binocs.  Any 
suggestions on additional stuff to help out with such things as magnitude 
estimates or exact tracking of the path of a satellite to allow my (eventual) 
contribution to the tracking of unknown and classified objects?  Please give 
me all of your clever ideas.  They'll really be welcome.

Bill