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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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rgm40
sage
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Reged: 04/15/08

Loc: Western Kentucky
Another "what in the heck was it" story
      #5860924 - 05/14/13 08:47 PM

While sneaking a peak at comet Panstarrs night before last, at roughly 75x, 10" f/7.55, a slow moving object came into the FOV. At first I thought it was a slow moving satellite. Then I noticed the object looked to have lights blinking regularly at roughly the rate of 8 times per second. They would blink about 6 or 8 times, pause, then again. At 75x and APOV of 50 degrees the object stayed in the FOV for at least 30 seconds if not longer. Any ideas?

Since getting back into astronomy last year, I am amazed at how much stuff is floating around out there unnoticed, compared to just a few years ago.

Maybe Mulder was right


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StrangeDejavu
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 03/20/13

Loc: Florida
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: rgm40]
      #5860948 - 05/14/13 09:00 PM

Is it possible you were seeing the ISS? I see satellites all the time, but they appear as a gold speck that goes from one end to the other in about 3 seconds, not 30.

Edited by StrangeDejavu (05/14/13 10:27 PM)


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obin robinson
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: League City, TX
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: rgm40]
      #5861102 - 05/14/13 10:25 PM

It sounds like a satellite or piece of debris tumbling out of control. I have seen the same thing before and it was a tumbling rocket body.

obin


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azure1961p
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/17/09

Loc: USA
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: obin robinson]
      #5861168 - 05/14/13 10:49 PM

3 seconds to vault across the sky is awfully fast for a satellite. I'd say 30 seconds is far more reasonable and done far longer than that.

Pete


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StrangeDejavu
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 03/20/13

Loc: Florida
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: azure1961p]
      #5861188 - 05/14/13 11:05 PM

Quote:

3 seconds to vault across the sky is awfully fast for a satellite. I'd say 30 seconds is far more reasonable and done far longer than that.

Pete




"One side to the other" as in one end of the eyepiece's FOV to the other, not the entire sky. I guess I should have been more specific.

Edited by StrangeDejavu (05/14/13 11:05 PM)


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Dan Finnerty
sage


Reged: 09/11/11

Loc: Pasadena, CA
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: rgm40]
      #5861201 - 05/14/13 11:14 PM

A high-flying commercial jet?

What color was the flashing light? White? High-intensity anti collision aircraft strobes have a flash pattern of several seconds between flashes, with a series of very fast pulsing flashes (multiple per second) during the "main" flash. This makes the flashes much more noticable to the eye.


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obin robinson
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: League City, TX
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: Dan Finnerty]
      #5861709 - 05/15/13 09:14 AM

It is possible that you saw FITSAT-1.
http://www.fit.ac.jp/~tanaka/fitsat.shtml

It has super bright LEDs attached to it that flash as it crosses the night sky. I it wasn't a tumbler then I say it was FITSAT-1. That is a great sighting!

obin


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ThreeD
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 12/23/08

Loc: Sacramento suburbs
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: rgm40]
      #5861751 - 05/15/13 09:37 AM

There is a neat little app called Satellite Safari (by the makers of Star Safari) that could give the answer if we know the right info. We have your rough location and where you were looking in the sky -- if we know *when* you were looking it would easy to use the app to at least get a list of candidates

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csrlice12
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: ThreeD]
      #5861862 - 05/15/13 10:56 AM

Predator Drone?

30 Seconds is a long time to cross the FOV of a 50* eyepiece, had to be going slow. A satellite would be there and gone hardly before you knew it.....


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Bakes
member


Reged: 01/06/09

Loc: Stratford, CT
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5862236 - 05/15/13 01:34 PM

Perhaps the instrument package of a high-altitude balloon? Balloons launched from the American SW were frequently spotted by amateurs in the Tennessee and Kentucky area back in the 50s and 60s.

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Mike B
Starstruck
*****

Reged: 04/06/05

Loc: shake, rattle, & roll, CA
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: Bakes]
      #5864329 - 05/16/13 11:57 AM

Quote:

...were frequently spotted by amateurs in the Tennessee and Kentucky area back in the 50s and 60s.




... regions also famous for high-zoot hootch.

I see satellites semi-routinely, the slow-moving golden glow that crosses a half-degree slice of sky in one's EP over the course of a handful (or two) of seconds. Have *not* seen them flash strobes before, but that would be cool. If the strobe flashed morse-code for "eat-at-Joe's", that's be funny... if it flashed "Joe is now one of us" i'd be a bit unnerved...

I've also noticed, several times, a seriously weird effect-- while observing a DSO and/or its starfield in an undriven Dob, suddenly one "star" will be seen drifting slowly across the field. But as i watch it, it becomes apparent that this "drifting" "star" is not actually drifting, but it's the FIELD that is drifting! (as it normally does in an "undriven" scope ) The "star" is remaining stationary in the FoV!

A geosynchronous satellite!

These can be quite the mind-bender to stumble across in this manner. When seen in a "driven scope" (done this, too), it's not weird in the least- obviously & simply is a satellite.


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darthwyll
member


Reged: 03/29/10

Loc: Southeast Texas
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: Mike B]
      #5864427 - 05/16/13 12:40 PM

A geosynchronous satellite. Yep. I've seen the same thing a few dozen times. I see them often looking toward Polaris. Also sometimes over in the southern skies by Orion. In fact, they show up in my M42 images constantly. Quite bothersome. They will freak you out at first tho.

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Mike B
Starstruck
*****

Reged: 04/06/05

Loc: shake, rattle, & roll, CA
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: darthwyll]
      #5864601 - 05/16/13 01:43 PM

How can a geosync satellite be seen near Polaris?


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: Mike B]
      #5864664 - 05/16/13 02:06 PM

probably a satellite as others have said, back last winter i was in my backyard observing and saw a slow moving object that changed in intensity with almost perfect timing over and over again. after watching it pass over as it would start dim get brighter until it it would flair at around mag 1 or so then it quickly dimmed down to mag 4 and repeated over and over again like clockwork. first thing i did after watching it was go on to http://www.heavens-above.com/ and checked to see what sat it could have been and i determined that i must have been landsat 4 if i recall, it was definitely one of the old defunct landsat's that i know. anyways i saw that it would be making another pass the next day and every day for the next few days so i made sure to watch for it to confirm and sure enough there it was the next few nights in a row doing the same thing because it was apparently tumbling out of control in orbit.

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csrlice12
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: frito]
      #5864691 - 05/16/13 02:11 PM

OMG, that old "HeeHaw" "What the Heck is that" skit just flashed thru my mind......told y'all I'm half crazy....

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darthwyll
member


Reged: 03/29/10

Loc: Southeast Texas
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: Mike B]
      #5864705 - 05/16/13 02:16 PM

Easily. And let me clarify that when I said "near Polaris" I mean about 10-15 degrees away. I used that phrase just to get those wondering where I observed it in the right area mentally.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_orbit


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darthwyll
member


Reged: 03/29/10

Loc: Southeast Texas
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: darthwyll]
      #5864714 - 05/16/13 02:19 PM

These satellites also rotate so that multiple instruments can be mounted. Solar panels are usually a huge part of these objects and we all know how much light can be reflected off these panels. That would more than likely cause the blinking that I and others have observed.

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Mike B
Starstruck
*****

Reged: 04/06/05

Loc: shake, rattle, & roll, CA
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: darthwyll]
      #5864724 - 05/16/13 02:23 PM

I'm only nominally familiar with orbital stuff... but don't geosync sat's orbit equatorially? How else do they stay *synchronous" with geographical locations spinning underneath at 24 hours per rev?

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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: Mike B]
      #5864734 - 05/16/13 02:29 PM

They could be synchronous at areas other then the equator, it's all a matter of geometry and speed(and a whole bunch of other math).

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darthwyll
member


Reged: 03/29/10

Loc: Southeast Texas
Re: Another "what in the heck was it" story new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5864762 - 05/16/13 02:50 PM

"but don't geosync sat's orbit equatorially?"

Not always. There are many different types of orbits. To "sync" you just have to orbit the planet at the same rate of it's rotation. It's all about inclination. A geostationary orbit, from my understanding, is possible only within a certain area above the equator. Those satellites appear more near Earth’s ecliptic and do not appear to move very much.


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