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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
tumbling satellite??
      #5525184 - 11/17/12 09:53 PM

so about little over 30 min ago i was in my backyard finishing up BBQing a Tri Tip for dinner and i was looking up at the sky off and on because we have had cloudy rainy weather the past 2 days but it appeared that it might start clearing up tonight as it was just starting to turn partly cloudy etc. well anyways i'm looking up in the sky sort of near the moon and i see a mag 1-2 flare from an object and then it dimmed rapidly but was still faintly visible i would say about mag 4 at that point as that's about the dimmest i can see in my backyard constantly naked eye. so at first i'm thinking cool an iridium flare, not a bright one but a flair anyways right. then all of a sudden it gets brighter again, about mag 3 this time then it gets dimmer and then bam another flare at mag 1-2 just as before! now i'm intrigued because i've see many satellites before but never one exhibiting this kind of behavior. i continued to watch it as it passed by for as long as i could due to clouds and it repeated this pattern like clockwork.

so naturally i take note of the time and spot i last saw it at and i checked heavens-above site to try and confirm what sat is is and it seems it was almost certainly Landsat 4.

http://www.heavens-above.com/passdetails.aspx?lat=37.54833&lng=-121.9875&...

thats the track it took. i saw it between 18:16 and 18:18. in that 2 min time frame it flared about 5 or 6 times i think. i can't seem to find any information about this sat causing this sort of activity but if it was tumbling in orbit out of control i could see how it could do it as the solar panel on it can easily cause a flare just like the iridium sats do (but they don't do it because they are tumbling of course and thats why they are predictable.

anyone else ever see anything like this before?

edit: found this video on you tube. not 100% exactly what i saw as far as the pulse pattern but pretty close esp at the start, otherwise pretty spot on though

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfcB4ByEl1U

Edited by frito (11/17/12 10:01 PM)


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star drop
contra contrail
*****

Reged: 02/02/08

Loc: Snow Plop, WNY
Re: tumbling satellite?? new [Re: frito]
      #5525204 - 11/17/12 10:13 PM

Most of the tumbling satellites that I have seen turned out to be spent booster stages with a fairly regular brightness variation. I'll have to watch for Landsat 4.

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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: tumbling satellite?? new [Re: star drop]
      #5525210 - 11/17/12 10:20 PM

http://www.heavens-above.com/passdetails.aspx?lat=37.54833&lng=-121.9875&...

that's the only other one that it could possibly have been but it doesn't match up with when i saw it or where i saw it as well as the landsat 4. plus i know for a fact it was headed in the direction of vega. vega was blocked behind clouds just barely but i knew where vega was at in the sky. so i'm pretty confident it was landsat 4


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bumm
sage


Reged: 01/07/11

Loc: Iowa
Re: tumbling satellite?? new [Re: frito]
      #5525404 - 11/18/12 01:36 AM

A number of years ago, I was driving along a dark country road when I saw a series of BRIGHT flashes, evenly spaced, in a straight line, just ahead of me and slightly off to one side. I had no idea what it was, and wondered if it could be a helicopter with a strobe of some sort. I've since decided it must have been a tumbling satellite seen under "just right" conditions. I wonder sometimes how many UFO reports have evolved out of such things.
Marty


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: tumbling satellite?? new [Re: bumm]
      #5526011 - 11/18/12 12:16 PM

yeah if you check youtube there are a lot of videos where people think they saw a UFO but it was just an out of control sat.

looks like Landsat 4 will be making a pass tonight much like it did last night so if the sky is clear enough i'll be be checking it out again to confirm that is what it is .

http://www.heavens-above.com/passdetails.aspx?lat=37.54833&lng=-121.9875&...

anyone in the SF Bay area and much of the central to northern CA coast should be able to see this as well (provided the weather cooperates)


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: tumbling satellite?? new [Re: frito]
      #5528851 - 11/19/12 09:28 PM

well the weather didn't agree with my attempt to view the past last night to confirm its landsat 4 that is doing this. tonight was fortunately better and i saw it once again!

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