Strange Object

Brian Webb (
Fri, 28 Nov 1997 21:52:24 -0500

I saw a strange object this evening while I was using my telescope. The
looked like a satellite, but was going from east to west. Here are the par-

Date (UTC): 97 NOV 29
Time (UTC): 02:17 (right after the end of astronomical twilight)
Location: Thousand Oaks, California
Latitude: 34 deg 13 min 30 sec N
Longitude: 118 deg 53 min 47 sec W

While looking high in the eastern sky for objects to aim my telescope at, I
noticed a faint object that had the same behavior/appearance as an artificial
satellite, but it was moving in the wrong direct.

The object glided across the sky just like a satellite. It varied in
brightness from invisible to magnitude +3 over a period of 10 seconds. It had
an angular rate (speed) somewhat slower than a satellite in an 800 km orbit.
The flight path was east to west. I lost sight of it at an azimuth of 090
degrees and elevation of 75 degrees. Its path would have taken it to a
maximum elevation of 80 degrees above the southern horizon as it crossed the
meridian. The object also didn't have a flashing light like many aircraft

It's worth noting that this object was seen just after evening twilight ended;
the prime time for seeing satellites.

I have 18 months of experience observing satellites, but I've never seen
anything like this.


Brian Webb