RE: USA 81 - Flasher?

From: Ted Molczan (molczan@rogers.com)
Date: Mon Nov 10 2003 - 08:52:24 EST

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    Bruce MacDonald asked whether or not he might have mistaken a different
    satellite for USA 81 (21949, 92-023A), a well-known flasher:
    
    > Magnitude seemed stable at around 5.5 at culmination (my 
    > estimate).  Does the flashing behaviour of this sat depend on 
    > the sun/observer geometry?  Or was I mistaking another sat 
    > for this one?
    
    Russell Eberst has reported 773 observations of USA 81; it was steady in only
    two cases; in all others it was rapidly flashing or varying regularly in
    brightness.
    
    Cosmos 2082 culminated 2 min later than USA 81, at about the same azimuth, but
    about 6 deg lower. At that point, it would have appeared to travel in roughly
    the same direction. Russell has reported 169 observations - always steady, and
    its standard magnitude is consistent with your observation:
    
    Cosmos 2082      6.0  2.0  0.0  5.6 v 14.5
    1 20624U 90046A   03310.10672854 -.00000071  00000-0 -12612-4 0  9517
    2 20624  71.0398 175.9679 0014041  45.0239 315.2020 14.13658237694407
    
    Are you sufficiently certain of your observation time and sky-position to rule
    out this object?
    
    Ted Molczan
    
    
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