Intelsat 5-3 r (13007, 81-119B)

Ralph McConahy (
Mon, 11 Oct 1999 21:30:36 -0700

I took a short break from satellite observing tonight to check out the
progress of Neptune and Uranus as they are slowly moving against the
background stars. Soon after I pointed my binoculars at Uranus, at about
12/030430Z, I noticed a flash just below the planet. I thought, "Perhaps a
geo flasher" (I didn't think about it at the time, but it was a little too
low in declination for a geo). I watched for another flash and a few seconds
later it happened again. I fumbled to put my watch into the stopwatch mode
while I continued to view the area where I'd seen the flashes. After about
five flashes it became evident that the satellite was not geosynchronous
because it was moving too fast, yet much slower than a LEO. Later, using
SkyMap, I discovered that I had seen:

Intelsat 5-3 r   8.6  3.0  0.0  5.0 d 20.7
1 13007U 81119B   99284.26630217  .00018805  00000-0  14882-2 0  5993
2 13007  23.5685 304.8668 4228828 142.5656 256.2152  7.00339305351170

Unfortunately, I found out that I had not put my watch into the stopwatch
mode, so I did not get accurate flash times. Because I thought I was timing
it with my watch I didn't make any attempt to estimate while I was
observing, but I'd guess that the flash period was about 10 seconds(?). The
magnitude of each flash was between +5 to +6 when I first saw it, and the
flashes slowly faded to near invisible in about 6 to 7 minutes. The flashes
were quite sharp at first, and looked more like solar panels, not what I'd
expect from a rocket booster.

I haven't seen much on SeeSat about this Atlas Centaur, does anyone have any
observational history on it?

  Ralph McConahy
  34.8829N  117.0064W  670m

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