SeaSat 1 unexpectedly bright.

From: Eddy Thompson (
Date: Sun Sep 12 2004 - 10:47:15 EDT

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    My name is Paul Thomspon, and I'm fairly new to sat-obs, so please excuse my ignorance. I was curious however, about the brightness of SeaSat 1. On Sept 11th (UTC) I was due for a pass of the sat at my location (~38.2540N, 85.7590W & 76m ; Louisville, KY, USA) between 1:39:49 UTC and 1:48:38 UTC, with the satellite being a 3.9 mag. This data is all from Heavens-Above. The satellite was easily visable, and not as dim as expected, appearing as bright as perhaps 3.2-3.3 mag. This I found unusual especially since at my relatively bright, light-polluted location, it is often a task to locate mag. 3.5 objects, with mag. 3.7 and 3.8 appearing extremely dim. My question then, is could the data have been misrepresented on Heavens-Above, or is the brightness of SeaSat1 actually variable or unstable. I did notice that its int'l designation is 1978-064-A, and it has thusly been in orbit for 26 years and is most likely inactive, so I wondered if its orientati! on is variable, and with it, its brightness also. If anyone has any idea as to the cause of this observed difference, I'd love to hear it.

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