Unidentified Molynia?

Ling,Alister [Edm] (Alister.Ling@EC.gc.ca)
Mon, 25 May 1998 09:27:28 -0600

Greetings SeeSat folks,

A *reliable* astronomy friend of mine (with more than 20 years of
observing at dark sites) observed a "temporary nova" Saturday night, and
I suspect that it was a Molynia satellite with good reflecting geometry.
I tried to track it down using SkySat with the Molczan elset file of May
14, and turned up the maximum altitude to 48,000 km, but came up empty.
Maybe the satellite was not included in the elset?

I can't think of anything of an astronomical phenomenon that could
produce a 30 second nova, except a visual counterpart to a gamma ray
burster, but I should leave that one alone - no sense invoking the
incredible when something more "earthly" can do the trick.

The location was 45 25' N 76 05 W, and the time was 9:20 pm EDT on
Saturday night May 23 = May 24 01:20 UT.
The object was right next to and the same brightness as the 3.3
magnitude star Megrez in the Big Dipper, the one where the handle joins
the bowl. There were other experienced amateur astronomers who saw this
too, they had time to get the object in the 8x50 finder scopes, then it
faded quickly before they could see it in the eyepiece. It was not
moving, as much as they could tell in the 30 seconds or so they had it
in sight. With Guide 6.0 I get an alt of 78 degrees and an Az of 356 for
that site and time.

Any ideas?