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What was I seeing last night/this morning?

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#1 kyle528

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 08:45 AM

So last night I set up all my AP gear and got it going and it was a very clear calm night so I got my little reflector out and was tinkering around with it, I’ve not been observing very long, and it’s an old hand me down scope so long story short I got frustrated and took a break for a while and just sat in a chair. It wasn’t long at all before I was noticing meteor after meteor zipping across the sky. Here’s where the question comes in. A few times, I noticed something moving, fairly dim, and slower than most meteors, and much faster than any plane I’ve watched. It would stay dim and then in the space of about 2 or 3 seconds, gradually become brighter, flash very bright for a split second (brighter than Venus) then gradually dim until I could no longer follow it. At first I though maybe a large satellite? Then I thought are satellites naked eye objects, and why the flash? It should be noted that I am not an experienced observer, so this may be painfully obvious.


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#2 Starman47

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 08:53 AM

My first thought - UFO smile.gif smile.gif smile.gif



#3 earlyriser

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 08:59 AM

Sounds like an Iridium satellite. They "flare" when their solar panels are at the right angle to reflect sunlight at the observer. 


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#4 Cfreerksen

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 09:01 AM

Sound exactly like experiences I have had several times. It's a satellite. 

 

Chris



#5 The Planetman

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 09:05 AM

As earlyriser said, it sounds like an Iridium satellite.  You can use Heavens Above, a satellite identification/prediction site to confirm any suspected satellite.
On a separate note, I was just reading last night that the Iridium flares will be coming to an end as the group of satellites are now beginning to reenter the atmosphere; one by one......


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#6 jaraxx

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 09:05 AM

I have had the experience and been told it's a satellite. Personally, and based on some old info from the USAF,  I think it's swamp gas...


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#7 sg6

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 09:18 AM

Satellite, they are generally non-flashing but some do. A couple of sites list them but often they only list the bright ones. Probably impossible to catalogue everything that might flash, especially as the flash is often dependant on where the observer is at the time.

 

There is at this time also the geostationary satellites, normally they are not really apparent but at this time of year they can be visible. This is becasue of the earths tilt which at the equinox puts Sun-Earth-Geostationaries in a line. So at this time you can see reflections off of some of those, they would appear to move a bit strange as they would move against the sky but not with reference to a building or tree.

 

Problem is there are lot of satellites of one variety or another up there.

 

http://www.stuffin.space/

We are in the middle of the central ball, zoom out to get a better idea of everything.



#8 CharlesC

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 10:14 AM

Its an iridium satellite also known as an "iridium flare" which are predicted for your location on heavens-above.com.

https://www.heavens-...ed&alt=0&tz=UCT



#9 *skyguy*

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 10:16 AM

Most likely it was a satellite. An Iridium satellite is usually cited as the "culprit", but many other satellites can also brighten and/or produce a "flash". Iridium satellites are in polar orbits ... north - south, south - north directions. If your object traveled in this this direction, then the likelihood of it being an Iridium is greatly increased. Any other direction would mean it's most likely some other satellite.

 

A more detailed description of this sighting .... location, time, path direction, nearby bright stars or constellation transits ... would help to pin-down its identity.



#10 MikeHC8

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 10:24 AM

At about 430 approximately I was looking above at my zenith and also seen object moving slowly across the sky going from south to north.  It stayed at a steady brightness then just got dimmer and then gone.  I would estimate about from the time I spotted it, the travel was 40 degrees and it was gone.  Seeing was clear no clouds, city lights.  Location San Diego


Edited by MikeHC8, 17 March 2019 - 10:25 AM.


#11 earlyriser

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Posted 17 March 2019 - 10:33 AM

Its an iridium satellite also known as an "iridium flare" which are predicted for your location on heavens-above.com.

https://www.heavens-...ed&alt=0&tz=UCT

I think SkySafari can be set up to generate Iridium flare alerts as well. 




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