From: Björn Gimle (
Date: Tue Sep 17 2002 - 11:22:10 EDT

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    > And Bjorn, I'm confused.  If the sat is spinning one revolution and flashes,
    > and it takes 4.66 seconds to complete another revolution and flashes again,
    > wouldn't that be 12.88 RPM?  Or is the satellite showing me two reflective
    > surfaces per revolution and I must divide by two?  Help!
    A "spinning sat" indeed shows one flash/revolution/surface.
    If there are more surfaces, you can see secondary flashes, but they are often
    different in character, magnitude and timing - not always midway/symmetric wrt.
    the "main" flashes.
    In some cases, there are multiple identical surfaces, symmetrically placed
    visavi the rotational axis, e.g. a double-sided solar panel, exactly normal to
    the rotation axis, and the true period may be disguised.
    A rocket that has settled down from the sometimes violent jolts of separation
    and propellant-depletion (some weeks?) has a rotation axis perpendicular to its
    long axis. When it has turned 1/2 revolution, it has pretty much identical
    orientation to the Sun and the observer (if it is cylindrical, not conical), and
    the same visuall characteristics !
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