From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Thu Mar 13 2008 - 17:18:57 UTC

  • Next message: Ted Molczan: "RE: NROL-28 FUEL DUMP?"

    Until a short time ago, the post to the Cometobs list, that Tony Beresford
    forwarded, was available in the web archive:
    For some reason, it and the three earlier posts from China on the same subject
    seem to have been deleted. Perhaps because they were off-topic for that list?
    Allowing for some garble in the messages, which were posted hurriedly as the
    event transpired, I am confident that the phenomenon was indeed the NROL-28 fuel
    dump. The following are quotes from one of the Cometobs posts and my comments.
    > Yiran Wu (39.979deg N, 116.299deg E, northwest suburb of Beijing)
    > found the object in Aries by naked-eye and immediately reported to me
    > at 11:21 UT (hereafter).
    The NROL-28 search elements (below) predict entry into Aries at about 11:37 UTC,
    near 02:27, +10:30 (2000.0), and exit at about 12:11 UTC, near 03:18, +31:00.
    The large difference between observed and predicted time appears to be garble.
    1 71001U 08000A   08073.68144909  .00000000  00000-0  00000-0 0    09
    2 71001  62.4000  39.5602 7090000 266.5070 180.0000  2.10000000    02
    > Hongbin Li at Xinglong Station, NAOC (40.396deg N, 117.578deg E,
    > mountain top; MPC code: 327) asked me via internet if there is a very
    > bright comet in the western sky at 11:34. But he said that he found
    > that object about 20min earlier.
    At 11:34 UTC, the predicted position was near az 261, el 23 deg. Twenty min
    earlier, it would have been near az 255, el 13 deg. The observations and search
    elements are in reasonable agreement.
    > Hongbin Li also found the object was expanding, decaying and slowly 
    > moving toward the north, and finally disappeared to naked-eye at 12:14, 
    > near 382 Per.
    Thank you to all who suggested explanations for "382 Per". 
    One suggestion was that it must be a typo; another was that it was in reference
    to the double star STF 382 (mag 5.8 and 9.3), near 03:25, +33:32.
    If it was a typo, then I suspect the mag 3.9 star 38 Per was intended. NROL-28
    was predicted to pass within about 4 deg around the reported time.
    If it was STF 382, then NROL-28 was predicted to pass within about 0.2 deg,
    about 3 min after the reported time.
    Ted Molczan
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