Unidentified Bright Tumbling Satellite

Robert Sheaffer (sheaffer@netcom.com)
Sat, 31 Aug 1996 23:35:44 -0700

Tonight we were preparing to watch the pass of 19671 Lacrosse 1,
predicted by Quicksat to transit at approx. 20:55 PDT (Sept. 1 03:55 UT),
passing from Ursa Major in the northwest to near Vega overhead. Just
before it was due, an unexpected tumbling satellite was seen
travelling approximately the same path about 1 1/2 minute earlier, 
reaching transit at approx. 20:53:20. It was quite bright, approx Mag. 2
at its brightest, fading to about Mag 4, with a period of about 2 
seconds. It passed into Lyra from the northwest, then on toward
Aquila/Pegasus. At first I thought it might be Lacrosse 1, but having
seen that before I did not expect the tumble. Less than two minutes
behind it, Lacrosse 1 appeared right on schedule.

Playing around with Quicksat and Skymap using Molczan's elements,
and VISUAL.TLE, no proper candidates turn up. Anybody have any ideas
what we saw? Might the object be associated with Lacrosse 1 in
some way?

We also saw 3598, the OAO-2 Rocket, glint as bright as magnitude 1
as it was approaching from the northwest at approx 20:39.

        Robert Sheaffer - robert@debunker.com - Skeptical to the Max!
     San Jose, California -  37 deg 17' 19" north, 121 deg 59' 09" west.

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