Jump to content


Photo

Possible nova on Saturday near Polaris?

  • Please log in to reply
21 replies to this topic

#1 stevethatsmyname

stevethatsmyname

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 439
  • Joined: 10 Dec 2009

Posted 08 September 2010 - 03:34 PM

My friend was stargazing at the grand canyon this last Saturday (the 5th) , and reported that he saw a star near polaris, noticably brighter than polaris but not too much brighter (so figure 1 magnitude brighter, or ~mag1 ish). It was steady (not moving, not really changing brightness much). He looked back later and it was gone. It was near polaris, maybe about as close as one of the little dipper stars. Was wonding if anyone can think of any phenomenon that this could be? some type of variable star or nova or something?

#2 TMK

TMK

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3951
  • Joined: 30 Dec 2008
  • Loc: A Cloudy Place

Posted 08 September 2010 - 03:59 PM

My guess? Satellite.

I've seen this on several occasions. It looks like a bright star that flares up out of nowhere for about five to ten seconds and then fades to nothing. On each and every occasion I never could detect any movement.

#3 johnnyha

johnnyha

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6500
  • Joined: 12 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Sherman Oaks, CA

Posted 08 September 2010 - 04:06 PM

Flying saucer?

#4 rdandrea

rdandrea

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2861
  • Joined: 13 Jun 2010
  • Loc: Colorado, USA DM59ra

Posted 08 September 2010 - 04:24 PM

I saw this Saturday night also. Below Polaris from my location, which is really not all that far (a couple hundred miles North) from Grand Canyon. Very bright, glowed on twice and off twice while I was watching. It was moving very slowly, easy to think it was stationary.

An item passing nearest to that time according to Heavens Above was an old Agena booster--a large piece of space junk. If it was tumbling, that would account for the behavior.

#5 Achernar

Achernar

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9087
  • Joined: 25 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA

Posted 08 September 2010 - 05:34 PM

Assuming it wasn't a distant aircraft, it's most likely a glint of sunlight off of a satellite, or more likely a defunct spacecraft or spent rocket stage. There's many more of those in orbit than active, working spacecraft and satellites, and I've seen as many as twelve of these objects each night I observed. Some are definitely debris because they slowly flash as though they are tumbling or spinning. Sometimes they slowly pass through my telescope's field of view, and once a geostationary satellite became a very bright "new star" that did not move as the Earth rotates, which showed it to be a geostationary satellite. If it was a nova, it would still be visible right now, even though they can flare up from their former faintness to a luminosity up to 500,000 times greater than the Sun before they start to fade. Novae can flare up incredibly quickly, in as little as 24 hours they can reach maximum brilliance, but others can stay bright for weeks on end before they start to fade back to normal. Novae can fade very quickly, in a matter of weeks but they do not fade away during one night.

Taras

#6 jrbarnett

jrbarnett

    Eyepiece Hooligan

  • *****
  • Posts: 20375
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Petaluma, CA

Posted 08 September 2010 - 05:43 PM

Actually, I confess...it was my peoples' mother ship. Now that the cat's out of the bag, please take me to your leader. :grin:

- Jim

#7 David Castillo

David Castillo

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1882
  • Joined: 09 Sep 2006
  • Loc: Carmel Valley, Ca

Posted 08 September 2010 - 05:51 PM

That's "Klaatu Barada Nikto" to you Jim.
----
Dave

#8 johnnyha

johnnyha

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6500
  • Joined: 12 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Sherman Oaks, CA

Posted 08 September 2010 - 06:47 PM

Yep. Flyin' saucer.

#9 stevethatsmyname

stevethatsmyname

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 439
  • Joined: 10 Dec 2009

Posted 08 September 2010 - 08:40 PM

I saw this Saturday night also. Below Polaris from my location, which is really not all that far (a couple hundred miles North) from Grand Canyon. Very bright, glowed on twice and off twice while I was watching. It was moving very slowly, easy to think it was stationary.

An item passing nearest to that time according to Heavens Above was an old Agena booster--a large piece of space junk. If it was tumbling, that would account for the behavior.


Thanks, randrea, interesting to see that someone else observed the same thing! Any idea what altitude the Agena booster would be at? One would think that if it was in LEO ~300 miles or so, the motion would be apparent. The satellites I've seen, the motion was apparent in real time.

#10 Tony Flanders

Tony Flanders

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11181
  • Joined: 18 May 2006
  • Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA

Posted 09 September 2010 - 04:44 AM

Sounds to me like an Iridium flare. Iridium satellites do indeed move, but they're in higher orbit than the great majority of satellites that you see. So the first few times I saw Iridium flares, I thought they were stationary.

Nothing known in nature flares on this timescale.

#11 epee

epee

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1113
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Suh-van-nuh, Jaw-juh

Posted 09 September 2010 - 07:02 AM

There is an old 1980's Soviet booster that travels south-to-north and is fairly bright, about 2-3 mag. It is appearantly in a high orbit so that it moves slowly, about half the speed of a commercial jet, across the sky. And, because it appears to travel in a straight line, it becomes almost motionless at the extreme northern end of its path and slowly fades from view.

It's caught me a few time while walking north in the early morning, "what's that bright star? There are no stars that bright there!" then it fades out in a few seconds.

#12 hfjacinto

hfjacinto

    I think he's got it!

  • *****
  • Posts: 11810
  • Joined: 12 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Land of clouds and LP

Posted 09 September 2010 - 07:18 AM

I once saw a nova in M86, I was wrong also. Not as bad as my friend, at a star party I had on the owl or et cluster (caldwell 13) and he looks through my scope and says he discovered it, when he found out its been around for a while he was totally surprised.

#13 JT5

JT5

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1178
  • Joined: 08 Nov 2007
  • Loc: Ozarks of Missouri

Posted 09 September 2010 - 07:30 AM

HeavensAbove is a website that gives up to date info on Satellites and Iridium flares. If you are not registered you will need to register including your location. They use this ONLY to provide data time data that is exact for your location.

John

#14 D_talley

D_talley

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2069
  • Joined: 07 Jul 2005
  • Loc: Richmond VA

Posted 09 September 2010 - 07:48 AM

There was an iridium flare listed for that location. I tried to see it but did not. I guess it was further west than me.

#15 Scopyfrank

Scopyfrank

    999 Forever

  • *****
  • Posts: 3874
  • Joined: 29 Aug 2008
  • Loc: Luxembourg

Posted 09 September 2010 - 11:48 AM

Actually, I confess...it was my peoples' mother ship. Now that the cat's out of the bag, please take me to your leader. :grin:

- Jim


Actually we have no more leader, but don't tell to your people, PLEASE!

#16 rdandrea

rdandrea

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2861
  • Joined: 13 Jun 2010
  • Loc: Colorado, USA DM59ra

Posted 09 September 2010 - 12:19 PM

No idea about the height. By the way I went back and checked for Iridium flares at the time I have in my notes (about 21:29 MDT) and there were no flares predicted. And Saturday was the 4th, not the 5th. See if you can get more accurate date/time information from your friend.

#17 Bill Llano

Bill Llano

    Sputnik

  • *****
  • Posts: 37
  • Joined: 20 Apr 2010

Posted 09 September 2010 - 08:30 PM

I would say that it was an on coming meteor(Straight at you), or a satellite reflection, or possible iridium satellite.

#18 jrbarnett

jrbarnett

    Eyepiece Hooligan

  • *****
  • Posts: 20375
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Petaluma, CA

Posted 10 September 2010 - 10:29 AM

Hey man, that's cool. We're just stopping by to usher in the Age of Aquarius. Peace, love and plenty. No war, no pollution, universal health care globally, safe, inexpensive, renewable energy. You know...pulling Earth out of primitive, superstitious barbarism into true "civil"-ization?

:grin:

Regards,

Jim

#19 Umberto De Boni

Umberto De Boni

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 53
  • Joined: 08 Dec 2007
  • Loc: Ontario Canada

Posted 10 September 2010 - 02:45 PM

I was imaging "Star Trails", 9:55p.m. local time (Eastern DST), and upon downloading the images (two at 30 min. exp. each) noticed the bright object near polaris. Is this what you are talking about?

Umberto

Attached Files



#20 Umberto De Boni

Umberto De Boni

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 53
  • Joined: 08 Dec 2007
  • Loc: Ontario Canada

Posted 10 September 2010 - 02:48 PM

Sorry, I should have added the date: Aug. 31, 2010.

#21 Scopyfrank

Scopyfrank

    999 Forever

  • *****
  • Posts: 3874
  • Joined: 29 Aug 2008
  • Loc: Luxembourg

Posted 10 September 2010 - 03:18 PM

Hey man, that's cool. We're just stopping by to usher in the Age of Aquarius. Peace, love and plenty. No war, no pollution, universal health care globally, safe, inexpensive, renewable energy. You know...pulling Earth out of primitive, superstitious barbarism into true "civil"-ization?

:grin:

Regards,

Jim


:iwhat: What? You travelled all these parsecs for such a hopeless mission? X-p

#22 johnnyha

johnnyha

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6500
  • Joined: 12 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Sherman Oaks, CA

Posted 10 September 2010 - 03:19 PM

Umberto - Interesting! Hmmm.... that doesn't look like a Federation ship... could be trouble coming our way.






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics