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What was it?

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#1 k5apl

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 04:51 PM

Night before last I was observing at Petit Jean State Park in Central Arkansas.  The transparency was so-so, and I bounced around to several brighter Messier objects.  I was looking at the Ring nebula with the Stowaway, Baader Mark V, 1.25 GlasPath corrector, and 12.5mm Plossl eyepieces.
With the Ring centered, a satellite (bright dot), went across my FOV from my right to left, and I thought: Nice surprise.  THEN, about 10 seconds later, another bright dot went from my left to my right, but its path was about 1/2 way from the center of the FOV to the edge.  It moved a little slower than the previous satellite, and it followed a sine curve of about 3-4 cycles.  At first I thought it was a firefly, but:
1.  It was a steady brightness light-dot
2.  It was a dot, not a smudge (it was focused)
3.  It was a steady brightness all the way through the FOV (not a flash, etc.)
4.  It was the same color as the previous satellite dot
5.  It appeared for about 3 seconds duration  (longer than a firefly)
6.  It appeared to be the same size light point as the previous satellite

Maybe you guys might have an answer.  I thought maybe tumbling space junk
or satellite?  Or maybe my friend James' alien friends?  or?  At any rate, it was a first for me to see something like this, and it made a so-so night more exciting.

  I have been observing for more than 65 years, off and on.  I was sober.  I was astonished.  The period of the sine wave was constant, with equal peaks and nulls.  It was about 10 PM local time.  That's about all I can recall.  

Wes


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#2 AstroFrankMontana

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 05:11 PM

Last night I saw two satellites on he same orbit, much like when the shuttle was catching up to the ISS. Both objects were brighter than Mag 2, the trailing object was obviously a discarded rocket body and tumbling.  My first though was the Chinese space station and approaching crew, but the timing was off and the crew was already docked.  Your description is about 90 minutes prior to my observation, so I am wondering if we saw the same objects, just on different orbital overflights.


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#3 DHurst

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 06:21 PM

I saw something very similar on Monday.  I was up in the Sierra observing in fantastic conditions.  I was observing the Whirlpool Galaxy with my 10” Dob.  A bright satellite zipped through the field of my binoviewer but it moved in a wave (sine wave). I  attributed that movement was caused by a tumbling satellite, or a drunk alien!  Never have seen that kind of movement before.



#4 Ben the Ignorant

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Posted 19 June 2021 - 05:04 AM

I  attributed that movement was caused by a tumbling satellite

Could it be the sine moving thing was degassing a tank and that made it move like that?



#5 jcj380

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Posted 19 June 2021 - 06:43 AM

How large was the wave amplitude?



#6 DHurst

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Posted 19 June 2021 - 01:02 PM

I’m not sure how to measure the wave but the amplitude was maybe 1/4th the wavelength.  It was just speck that moved rapidly through the FOV.


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#7 k5apl

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Posted 19 June 2021 - 04:21 PM

AstroFrank- the tow 'satellites" I saw were moving in opposite directions to each other.

 

Jcj380-  I concur that the peak to peak amplitude was about 1/4 - 1/2 of the wavelength period.  Or at least in that ballpark.

 

BTW I have seen the ISS and shuttle, and Satellites and their rockets, back in the past.  The wavy "thing" was not

similar.  Thanks Dhurst for stating you saw something too.  

 

Wes


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