Zi Yuan, or not Zi Yuan, that is the question...

From: k4hsm@knology.net
Date: Thu Oct 30 2008 - 15:44:21 UTC

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    The other night I was on the prowl for Zi Yuan 2 and saw a tumbling satellite about 3 minutes ahead of when Zi Yuan was supposed to pass.
    I was observing Cosmos 1697 traveling south through binoculars when another object passed within the field of view going north.
    The object passed through constellation Cassiopeia and continued north towards Polaris.  It was not visible to naked eye (city pollution) so I would guesstimate a mag 4.5 to 5.0.  It was tumbling at roughly the same period as Zi Yuan 2 would be tumbling.  But it was about 2-3 minutes ahead of schedule, and further east than ZY2.
    Here's the track of ZY2 according to Heavens-Above:
    Cassiopeia is to the east of the track, and that is where this object passed.
    I checked Calsky as well and nothing shows within the time period.
    My location:
    Knoxville, 35.9676°N, 84.0251°W
    ZY2 was supposed to come into view at 20:26:54 local time, but this object was visible at 20:23.  Cosmos 1697 was at closest approach at 20:23:03 and this is about when I saw the other satellite travelling north.
    I never saw ZY2 when it was predicted to pass, but again light pollution may have been a factor, plus it may have been too dim to see when I was scanning for it.
    Greg Williams
    Knoxville, TN. USA
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