|Occurred : 8/5/2000 23:55 (Entered as : 08/05/00 23:55)
Reported: 8/27/2000 19:02
Location: LeSueur, MN
Duration:4.5 to 5 minutes
|Saw 3 satellite-like objects move from Big Dipper to SSE part of sky in varying formation over about 5 minutes.
Sighting Date/Time: August 5, 2000, maybe 11:45-12:10PM Sighting Location: Sighting occurred while on the beach of the Minnesota river, approx 3 miles E-NE of Le Sueur, MN Sighting Description: We were fishing on the bank of the Minnesota River. We had all been watching for satellites and had even had 2 in perpendicular orbits pass real close to one another (2" at arms-length I'd estimate) and there was about 5 of us seeing it. We all thought that was cool. August also sees an increase in meteoric activity, which we all took in. Skies were mostly clear, humid, 70F, 1/2? moon in the West. I had been left on the shore to watch the catfish lines while my friends went back to town to get another 4X4 truck. I sat, watching satellites go by, and the frequent falling stars, when I looked North to the lowest part of the spoon in the Big Dipper constellation. I watched a light become bright as it moved in what would become a S-SE direction. I assumed, that the increase in light intensity was due to the sun's position below the horizon, and the satellite entering the light from the long-set Sun. (We know that as satellites move into the Earth's shadow, the light fades and they disappear. And I grew up in the country with my dad's 8" reflector Celestron with the Earth-clock tripod, so I know my way around the stars well enough to hold the evening's conversation.) Anyway, as I watched the "satellite" move, I noticed that it was a slower speed than any of the (at least 6) satellites I had observed in that evening, and suddenly I saw another appear behind it, maybe 1/2" at arms-length at perhaps 4 o'clock as looking at a clock. I thought that this was a treat, since seeing two satellites in such proximity is rare, (if not totally regulated "illegal" by some NASA trajectory-assignment committee). From the time I saw the first, until the second appeared, was possibly 20 seconds. At this point, they may have been 3/4 of the distance through an arc between the horizon and a vertical axis going up through my body. As soon as I saw the second, I had two reference points moving in the sky, and was immediately aware that the speed of one was erratic at best. Using the stars in the background, I was then able to verify that they traveled less a trajectory, but rather in a meandering direction, neither holding a constant speed at this point. The second never passed the first. Then, as they were at a point I would describe as 11 O'clock, I saw the third. I felt a rush of disappointment that everyone had left. I watched the three lights, and I hate to try and judge their altitude, but I would put them as "orbit". If you were to hold a 30/60/90 triangle up in the air, with the right-angle facing to your right, that is a good representation of the "formation" they tried to hold, and the hypotenuse of the triangle would be no larger than an inch at arms-length. They all seemed to "inch-worm" across the sky, all wavering slightly in direction, still traveling at what must have been an ungodly speed, with conservative accelerations to what seemed to be trying to preserve the formation. At this point, I had been watching them for probably 2 minutes, had taken off my glasses, looked away, shook my head, opened a 7Up, looked back and they were all still there. I shouted at them, waved, screamed at them that their formation looked shitty, and began to realize that the third, the dimmest of the three could not keep control. The second seemed to act as a "chase-plane", like the Tigers that follow the Shuttle's entry. Sometimes, the second would slow to alongside the third, making equilateral triangle, sometimes drop behind, but not for long. It seemed intent on trying to hold its own position in the formation. I hate to say it, but it seemed like none of them were keeping control. I watched them for what I would estimate as 4.5-5 minutes, as they crossed the arc of the sky. It actually became boring, as I wanted to see some of those eye-blinking accelerations I have heard of. But they continued to stumble their way across the sky at from my vantage seemed a languid, haphazardly jaunt. They faded out of light in the S-SE, as would a satellite re-entering the Earth's shadow. That's one of the reasons I say their altitude was orbit-level.