Old rockets

Matson, Robert (ROBERT.D.MATSON@cpmx.saic.com)
Thu, 3 Sep 1998 14:06:47 -0700

Hi All,

For the last couple nights I decided to try acquiring some of the
oldest rocket bodies in orbit.  Despite the gibbous moon and some
haze, I was successful "bagging" four of them.  Transit 2A R/B
(#00047, 1960-007C) made a near zenith pass Wednesday night at
magnitude 5.0 (6.2 predicted).  This is a solid magnitude measurement
thanks to a pair of stars that the rocket body passed between.  Others
may want to consider brightening the Molczan standard magnitude for
this object from +6.5 to +5.3 as I have.

Tougher than this satellite was Transit 4B R/B (#00204, 1961-031C),
which only made it to magnitude 6 (in agreement with prediction).

Cosmos 44 R/B (#00877, 1964-053B) was easier.  I got a nice stellar
reference for this pass, and the predicted magnitude agreed well with
what I observed (mag 5).

Tuesday night I observed Transit 5B-6 R/B (#01428, 1965-048B)
make a zenith pass at magnitude +5.3 (1.0 mag brighter than
predicted).  Again I used two stellar references for matches,
one magnitude 5.33, the other 5.26, so I have high confidence
in the measurement.  I brightened up the Molczan magnitude
for this object from 6.5 to 5.5.  --Rob