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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Dec > Dec 1

Re: Skylab 3

From: Bruce Maccabee <brumac.nul>
Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2007 14:27:36 -0500
Archived: Sat, 01 Dec 2007 16:01:10 -0500
Subject: Re: Skylab 3

>From: James Smith <lunartravel.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 11:10:05 -0500 (GMT-05:00)
>Subject: Re: Skylab 3

>>From: Bruce Maccabee <brumac.nul>
>>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>>Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2007 15:53:10 -0500
>>Subject: Skylab 3

>>Alan Bean, Jack Lousma and Owen Garriott (the first scientist in
>>space). It was more than 30 years ago, and it has taken me a
>>long time (!) to complete the analysis and post this. But the
>>data are still good.

>>If you want to find an astronaut sighting of an unidentified
>>space object - USO; this one was not submerged - then here you

>>Comments welcome


>The Skylab images seem peculiar and a relatively long duration
>intersecting orbit with a satellite not very close to the Skylab
>inclination would be highly unlikely.

Thanks for your extensive comments. What you have discussed is
mostly related to the orbital mechanics and the question, could
there have been some manmade object in an orbit so close to that
of the Skylab as to be seen for up to ten minutes and which
would make an image with the angular size as large as in the
last photo (assuming a 300 mm lens) and which would disappear
from view about 5 sec after the Skylab went into shadow (an
event that led Garriott to conclude that the object was about 38
km behind the Skylab) yet which would not be observed during any
other orbit or would not be detected by any of the radar
tracking stations?

You have made only a brief comment on the most photographically
obvious aspect of the images obtained, namely that they are red.
(In one frame the light was bright red enough to overexpose the
film causing a yellowish center of the red "dot" image.)
According to Garriott this object was first seen (and
photographed?) as much as 10 minutes before Skylab went into
orbit, in other words, before Skylab and the object were in the
"thin" orbital region where atmospheric reddening fo the sun
could make a reflection look red (although I doubt that such a
reflection would be as clearly red as shown in the photos).
Therefore if it was "anywhere near" skylab 10 minutes before the
shadow its red could have come from only two possibilities: (a)
it was painted red and reflected only red light or (b) it was a
source of red light.

You have addressed this color issue briefly as follows:

>The number of Skylab debris items was about 23. There are three
>objects that re-enter in Sept 1973, so the orbital elements are
>likely useless. One of these re-enters on Sept 20, 1973, the day
>claimed for the odd photo. There is a possibility that this
>particular object is low enough in altitude to get heated up and
>glow red. Therefore, it could be self illuminated via heat
>radiation. This could not explain why the object got dark upon
>entering shadow unless there is fortuitous timing of the
>object's disintegration. Another possibility is that it is
>heating up and giving off gases/particles that catch the sun-
>light, increasing its effective size. Then fade out would match
>going in shadow.

>I do not have a feel for how long such heating up and glowing
>could occur (if even possible) but it would seem to take some
>time (~10 minutes) if the objects are made of metal (rather than
>how meteors generally rapidly burn up due to high angles they
>enter the atmosphere with usually).

It seems to me that one big problem with assuming that a the
object was a source of red light by virtue of being heated by
the atmosphere is that this "meteor" version of the hypothesis
does not explain how Skylab could have seen it for ten minutes
before Skylab crossed the shadow boundary. If it were seen as it
reentered, it would have been below the Skylab and there should
have been some evidence of an earth background unless it was
seen after both it and the Skylab had gone into the shadow so
that the background was the unilluminated earth as opposed to a
black background, which is consistent with the camera pointing
away from the earth. Also, the size plays a role in this. If it
were a meter sized object, for example it had to be within 1
m/(.0029 rad) = 345 m of the Skylab as it glowed and that would
place the Skylab in a "crash and burn" orbit some 6(?) years
before it actually did Crash and Burn (where 0.0029 is the
angular separation between the furthest separated red "blob"
images of the fourth photo). Also, being that close to the
Skylab would mean that it would enter the shadow at essentially
the same time.

>Regarding your webpage, I have some comments...

>Prior to Skylab, there were no launches we know about to 50
>.degrees inclination +-.05 degrees. However, there are a number
>of satellites that were launched near that inclination
>(excluding rocket bodies and debris): COSMOS 139 at 49.7 deg,
>EXPLORER 8 at 49.88 deg, ANNA 1B and EOLE 1 (CAS-A) at 50.14
>deg, EXPLORER 7 at 50.29 deg, COSMOS 546 at 50.65 deg, EXPLORER
>44 (SOLRAD-10) at 51.06 deg, COSMOS 359 at 51.12 deg, COSMOS 50
>at 51.23 deg.

>Regarding the images before and after the UFO sequence,
>according to the Skylab mission photo guide they are not
>immediately before or after. The prior image #2137 is a blurred
>attempted photo for the Goddard Laser Experiment which was aimed
>at a Maryland region, considerably prior to the UFO photos. The
>subsequent image #2142 is of "Lake Erie, Ohio, Ontario, clouds",
>a much later time. I doubt the images actually are of the laser
>beam (although the laser _was_ tested at red wavelengths),
>mainly because I see no reason for the astronauts to mess up
>their observations so much and that only two photos of the laser
>beacon were officially taken during Skylab 2 on Sept 4, 1973,
>which does not correspond with when they reported photographing
>the odd object. One point of interest is that an interview of
>the crew regarding the laser experiment showed that they used
>the 300mm lens for it, so there seems to be a good likelihood
>they kept the lens on for the subsequent "UFO" pictures.

Strange that they would attempt to photograph the red laser
while the earth was in sunshine. The red beam would have a lot
of light to compete with. The photo you mention does not look
like a red filtered image which would likely be used if one were
to try to detect a red laser beam against a bright background. I
could imagine them trying the Goddard laser experiment when the
earth surface was dark. Then they wouldn't need a red filter.
But then there would also be no image of the surface such as we
see in 2137.

>Trash should be considered as a possible cause although it would
>be small in size. Skylab had a trash jettisoning device/port
>which was used frequently. Existing tracking data lists "debris"
>for Skylab which could be trash, but it seems unlikely since the
>trash bags would not have radar reflective material in/on them.
>There were also reports of items being jettisoned from the much
>larger scientific airlock which definitely were tracked.

Trash would have to be close - within hundreds of meters - if
the disappearance was a result of going into shadow. But in this
case there would be no 5 sec time lag, or even a 1 sec time lag.
An alternate hypothesis explored on the web site is that the
obejct was initially close and all four photos were taken at
that time and then it drifted away and became progressively
smaller and dimmer and then was about 38 km behind when it went
into shadow. But if this were trash, as presumed, why wouldn't
the astronauts have realized they were looking at something they
had recently ejected?

And why would it appear red?


>The size of the re-entering object is not clear. It was stated
>to be a camera, which sounds small.

>However, careful reading of the mission reports imply that there
>was more to the object than a camera. They apparently jettisoned
>on day 8 both a camera and its experiment out of the scientific
>airlock. One would have to view TV coverage of the event
>(reported to have been shown at the time) to know the size and
>whether these objects were connected. The airlock is relatively

Again, if this was trash and if it disappeared by going into
shadow then one has to explain

(a) the color

(b) the time lag of 5 or more seconds reported by Garriott who
counted out the seconds until the object disappeared. (Evidently
he had the impression that the object was following and not
leading the Skylab)

>The only way to check the possibility/narrow the timing would be
>to get the raw tracking data used by NORAD to generate the
>orbital elements, which would consist of data over many orbits
>which are analyzed/converted into the elements. However, I would
>guess that they have thrown out this old data or not want to
>share it in any event with the public.

>Examination of the photo guidebook for Skylab 2 shows the
>description for two photos to be "UFO" (SL2-102-893, SL2-102-
>897). I have never seen them but have heard that the existing
>copies are pretty dark and scratched so nothing may be viewable
>on them.


Don't know anything about them.

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