No. 53: Sep-Oct 1987
So goes the title of an item in Sky and Telescope. Instead of ending with an exclamation point, a question mark would have been more appropriate. The Perseus Flasher, a recurring flash of light in Perseus described in SF#39 and #49, is a topic upon which astronomers also wish to "close the book." So, we must ask ourselves how accurate the above title is.
The Sky and Telescope item concludes: "So the mystery is solved!" (Anonymous; "The Perseus Flasher: Mystery Solved!" Sky and Telescope, 73:604, 1987.)
Comment. So, science in its relentless, inerrant progress has positively solved still another mystery. (Triumphal background music here!) In case you haven't noticed, the three "exhibits" above do not hang together too well.
First, it is implied that the Perseus flashes do not exist at all, since they have not been detected by photographic monitoring. Then, the flashes are said to be only sun glints from satellites, which is an admission that the flashes are real after all. In all probability, the photographic plates may not be capable of recording such brief flashes, but nothing is said on this matter. Further, many Perseus flashes are apparently not correlated with satellite passages. And we have no indication that the guilty satellite had a reflecting surface properly oriented at just the proper moment. There must be more to this story.