Puzzling observations of 19822=89-016A

From: Edward S Light (light@argoscomp.com)
Date: Fri Sep 24 2004 - 10:52:11 EDT

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    Last night, we observed object 19822 89-016A (aka EXOS D or Akebono)
    for the third time this week and are EXTREMELY PUZZLED about its behavior.
    In the past, its two-second flashing has been reported and, indeed, the
    first time we saw it (2004 Sept 20/00:04 UTC) we saw it vary from apparent
    magnitude 2 to 5 in a two-second period.
    
    Two days later, however, at Sept 21/23:59 UTC, it was not obviously
    varying and, more notably, was only about 5th magnitude.
    
    To continue the confusion, last evening (EDT), Sept 23/23:54 UTC,
    last evening (EDT), at Sept 23/23:54 UTC, it never got brighter than
    about magnitude +6.7, again with no obvious variation.
    
    The observations are summarized below:
    
     UTC dates  Appar Altit/  Astron  Range
     2004 Sept.  Mag   Azim    Phase   km
      +/- 2 sec       (degs)  (deg)
    ----------- ----- ------  ------  -----
    20/00:04:00  4.8  38/125   032     628   Faintest
    20/00:04:09  2.1  39/116   029     614   Brightest
    
    21/23:59:02  4.9  47/153   055     565   Steady?
    21/23:59:22  5.2  57/129   049     515      "
    21/23:59:38  5.5  60/101   046     513      "
    
    23/23:54:13  6.7  66/179   074     501      "
    23/23:54:27  6.7  79/157   071     481      "
    
    Observations made using 7x50 and 10x50 binoculars from
    Site 8840: +40.1075 N, +074.2312 W, +24m (80 ft)
    
    In IODi format:
    19822 89 016A   8840 G 20040920000400000 28                      N+048 03 002000
    19822 89 016A   8840 G 20040920000409000 28                      M+021 03 002000
    19822 89 016A   8840 P 20040921235902000 28                       +049 02       
    19822 89 016A   8840 P 20040921235922000 28                       +052 02       
    19822 89 016A   8840 P 20040921235938000 28                       +055 02       
    19822 89 016A   8840 P 20040923235413000 28                       +067 03       
    19822 89 016A   8840 P 20040923235427000 28                       +067 03       
    
    
    Is this bizarre day-to-day variation "normal"?  Note that in all cases,
    the object moved from South towards East, in the local evening.
    
    Any enlightenment would be greatly appreciated.
    
    Clear and dark skies!
       Ed and Darlene Light
    
    Lakewood, NJ, USA
    Site 8840, N 40.1075, W 074.2312, +24 m (80 ft)
    
    
    PS: As an aside, every now and then there have been discussions as to
    whether one should use the "NORAD" 5-digit satellite IDs or the "COSPAR"
    identifiers.  As I was just reminded, in searching for information on
    this satellite, it is much easier to look for "19822" than for the
    many conceivable variants of this satellite's COSPAR ID - e.g. "89-016A",
    "89 16A", "89 16 A", etc.
    
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