Fwd: Re: Possible re-entry sighted

From: rfs1@cornell.edu
Date: Sun Oct 01 2000 - 23:07:51 PDT

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    Okay, I screwed up and pushed "send" when I meant to spell check.  So here
    is the same boring message spell checked and signed:
    
    Alan and Bob;
    
    I'm new to satellite watching also, and I found this listserv after I saw 
    something remarkably similar to your observation.  To date I have not 
    established what it was, though several people on SeeSat suggested it was 
    atmosphere grazing meteor.  I chatted with a Cornell astro post-doc and he 
    seemed to think the object was moving too slowly to be a meteor, but stranger 
    things have happened.  I am currently leaning toward a military aircraft of
    some kind, 
    but that may be more my own wishful thinking than reality.  I say 
    that because if the object (as described in my original message below) was 
    sub-orbital and started its flight from the southern US, as its flight path
    suggests, there are not any military bases "black" enough to hold such a 
    project.  Tyndall AFB near Pensacola and Barksdale AFB in Louisiana are both 
    pretty large in terms of area but have not been associated with super secret 
    stuff in the past.  Most of that conspiracy theory business has gone on in 
    the American west at places like Nellis AFB and the ballyhooed Groom Lake 
    facility.  One exception is Whiteman AFB in Missouri, 
    which is pretty much straight south of Duluth, and the home of the B2
    stealth bomber.  It is 
    possible a high altitude reconnaissance aircraft would be based there and fly 
    missions over the pole to Europe and the middle east, in which case it would 
    fly over Minnesota.   Why a presumably secret aircraft would fly over 
    moderately populated central NY instead of out west is not clear to me.  The 
    only reasons I can think of, and it's pure speculation, is that such an 
    aircraft would make a lot of noise and need hundreds of miles to accelerate 
    so it might be based along the Gulf Coast, using the Gulf of Mexico as a 
    safe area (not likely to hit anything if something goes wrong rather than 
    trying to avoid detection) to reach cruise altitude, maybe 100,000 ft +, and 
    then head on its desired course.  Why there was no sonic indication when the 
    thing went by me is not clear. I used to live in St.Petersburg, FL and the 
    space shuttle would regularly make two 'sonic booms'  (leading edge and 
    trailing edge) when it passed overhead at a similar altitude on its gliding 
    return to X68, the Shuttle Landing Facility on Florida's East coast.  The 
    other big hole in my argument is that I can't account for the color and 
    shape of the exhaust plume.  While solid fuel exhaust appears orange it 
    seems unlikely aircraft would be powered by it, and the hydrogen/oxygen combo 
    used on the shuttle mains is slightly blue, but appears white when viewed
    at night 
    (at least it does on the dozen or so launches I have seen from Florida's 
    west coast).  Anyone know what color afterburned JP-8/JP-5/JP-4 is? 
    Regardless, the object I saw was more spherical in shape and fluctuated 
    in size more than any previous Shuttle or Rocket launch I have witnessed. 
    I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
    
    Sincerely;
    
    Rob Shuck 
    Cornell University     
    
    
    
    >
    >
    >I apologize in advance if this message is off topic, but I just saw 
    >something really cool and I couldn't find anyone else on the 'net to ask, 
    >so you kind people get a neophyte's question:
    >At approximately 5:20 zulu (1:20am eastern US local), I, along with about 
    >half the Cornell University campus who were exiting the local bars after 
    >1:00 am closing, saw a bright orange glowing ball that moved from south to 
    >north in the western sky. The object appeared to be a de-orbiting 
    >satellite because it did not streak across the sky rapidly like a meteor, 
    >it had no flashing strobes or red/green position lights like an airplane, 
    >and it seemed to be breaking up as it traveled along (small glowing bits 
    >broke off from the main body several times). I have seen several polar 
    >orbiting satellites over the years (through binoculars) and this object was 
    >travelling at a similar speed. I didn't have the foresight to time the 
    >object precisely, but what I recall and my local data are as follows:
    >Location: Ithaca, New York, USA 
    >LAT/LON from my trusty handheld GPS: N 42 26.4' / W 76 29.2' 
    >Time (approx): 05:20 UTC September 2, 2000 
    >Object's direction of travel : south to north (looked like a 360 degree 
    >true heading) 
    >Object's apparent angle above western horizon: 40-50 degrees (measured 
    >after the fact with an inclinometer) 
    >Duration of event: 2-3 minutes (I walked about 300 meters in the time it 
    >took the object to travel roughly one fourth of the visible sky from a 
    >position due west until it disappeared in atmospheric haze)
    >Relative brightness: Brightest object in the sky, I don't have the ability 
    >to quantify it for you. 
    >Atmospheric conditions: Syracuse, NY (roughly 25 nm north) reported 8 
    >statue miles visibility at 6:10Z and that seems accurate to me for when I 
    >saw the object. Sky had scattered thin overcast, and not more than 20 
    >stars were visible with the naked eye around the object. The object was 
    >bright enough for me to notice it while walking in a city with lots of 
    >ground lights and hazy conditions, that's pretty bright.
    >Since NASA's and JPL's website contained precious little information to 
    >help me identify this object I would appreciate any assistance your 
    >combined wisdom could render. 
    >Respectfully;
    >Rob Shuck 
    >Cornell University 
    >Ithaca, NY 
    >
    >
    >At 09:57 PM 10/1/00 +0100, Alan Pickup wrote:
    >>>I am an amateur astronomer and had the opportunity to spend a 
    >>>couple hours observing last night (9/29-30) under dark skies from 
    >>>my site 15 miles north of Duluth, MN. I have seen many meteors in 
    >>>my time but last night offered something truly unusual. At 12:53 
    >>>a.m. I spotted a slow-moving, northward traveling "meteor" moving 
    >>>from northern Cetus in the southeast clear across the eastern sky 
    >>>disappearing some 10 seconds later 4 degrees above the 
    >>>northeastern horizon. The object was yellow-orange, about mag. -
    >>>1.0  and left a continuous contrail as it leisurely traveled across the 
    >>>eastern sky. I even had time to train the finder on my telescope on 
    >>>it when it was very low in the north. Would I be right to assume this 
    >>>was probably a piece of a satellite burning up? Were there any re-
    >>>entry predictions for yesterday evening?
    >>>Thanks for your help and comments!
    >>
    >>The apparent velocity of this object appears too high for it to be a
    >>decaying satellite. Neither can I find a decayer that could have been
    >>responsible for this report. The closest two are #26149 and #24238. the
    >>former (CBERS LM4 deb AK) may have decayed early on the 30th UTC
    >>(perhaps 02:00 UTC) though there was no published elset during its final
    >>day. In any case, its orbital plane took it nowhere near Duluth near the
    >>time of the observation. #24238 = Pegasus deb LM may have decayed at
    >>about 07:00 UTC on the 30th, but again there was no elset in the last
    >>day and the orbital plane was in the wrong place.
    >>
    >>Alan
    >>-- 
    >>Alan Pickup / COSPAR 2707:  55d53m48.7s N   3d11m51.2s W      156m asl
    >>Edinburgh  / SatEvo & elsets:    http://www.wingar.demon.co.uk/satevo/
    >>Scotland  / Decay Watch: http://www.wingar.demon.co.uk/satevo/dkwatch/
    >>
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