Re: Observations - Unexpectedly Bright Satellites

Fri, 18 Oct 96 22:12:47 PDT

Robert Sheaffer asked if #13003 Radio Rocket has ever been observed
as bright as Mag 3.5.  I've only seen it three times, and each time
it was dimmer than Mag 5.  It took me many tries before I saw it the
first time -- I was expecting something much brighter.  The
QUICKSAT.MAG file gives it a standard magnitude of 3.5, so perhaps
you had an optimum pass with the rocket body oriented perfectly to
reflect the sunlight.  My passes may have been looking down the
booster tube, as opposed to seeing the booster from the side?

> (snip)
>At 02:32, observed an unexpected satellite moving northward into
>Draco, at about 60 degrees elevation, magnitude 3.5. This matches
>almost precisely with the expected position of 13003 "Radio Rocket",
>which is not expected to be that bright. Has anyone ever observed
>this object to reach such a magnitude?
>        Robert Sheaffer - - Skeptical to the Max!
>     San Jose, California -  37 deg 17' 19" north, 121 deg 59' 09" west.