Re: Unidentified Molynia?

Ed Cannon (
Tue, 26 May 1998 04:31:59 -0500

(That should be "Molniya".)

Regarding the bright satellite observed in Ursa Major last Saturday

> Date: Mon, 25 May 1998 09:27:28 -0600
> From: "Ling,Alister [Edm]" <>
> To: "''"
> Subject: Unidentified Molynia?
> 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....  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.

In Mike McCants' eccen.tle file, I found one that's sort of close 
to that report:

Hrs Min  Alt Azi  Mag    Hgt    R  A    Dec  Range   5 Min Early
10925 Molniya 1-40   78-055A   19 M 3.5 ELDY  1 M2   -3
 21  20   72 353 12.0  20526  12  3.4  63.1  20690  12  4.9  63.1

However, upon following the thread 'Anyone see a "Guest Star" in Ursa
Major?' in sci.astro.amateur, I found that people in Canada, New York, 
and New Mexico all saw a similar object the same evening.  However, the 
New Mexico observation was more than two hours later (9:20 PM EDT/1:20 
UTC versus "about 10:00 PM" MDT/4:00 UTC):

> Sometime around 10:00 pm local, several club members saw a very bright
(~mag -2)
> object moving through the bowl of Ursa Major.  It appeared to be about 4
> degrees from Dubhe, near SAO 28043.  We were at the club observatory (34 31'
> 20.1" N, 106 50'41.6" W), about an hour south of Albuquerque, NM.  The sun had
> set some two hours earlier, so if it was a satellite, it was in a fairly high
> orbit.  It faded to ~mag 6 after just a few seconds.
>>> Did anyone see a "guest star" right in the Big Dipper area of Ursa Major?
>>> I was observing at about 10:00 PM ET last night from the Adirondak
>>> Mountains of NY when I saw this "star".  It was located about 3/4ths of a
>>> degree to the east of Delta UMa with a magnitude of ~2.5 (roughly the same
>>> area as mag 7.2 SAO28250) and it was NOT moving.  I saw it for about a
>>> minute or two, then I turned to check my computer to see if I was nuts and
>>> when I looked back up, it was gone!

Aside -- Our skies in Texas have been "mostly lousy" for about two 
weeks now....  But I *did* manage to see an Iridium flare a couple
of nights ago.

Ed Cannon
Austin, Texas, USA