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Very Strange Flashing Object

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#1 Araguaia

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 02:45 PM

There is smoke about, but it thinned out a bit over the weekend, and we had some young visiting researchers so I did a short outreach session last night to show them Jupiter, Saturn, and some bright clusters.

 

About an hour after sunset, we saw an object streaming overhead, moving just like a satellite, but flashing VERY bright every few seconds.  The flashes actually reflected off the smoky haze.  They were a bit yellowish, perhaps due to the smoke.

 

There was no sound even though we were in deep silence - even a plane at 10 thousand meters would be heard easily.  And the flashes were way too bright to be from an aircraft unless it was carrying an antiaircraft searchlight.  And they all seemed of equal brightness as the object crossed the sky, as if they were pointed at us.

 

I thought it could be an Iridium-type flash, but it kept flashing continuously.  A tumbling satellite?  The orbit was strange - roughly NNW to SSE, not polar or equatorial.  It did not disappear crossing the terminator - perhaps it did not cross it while we had it in sight.

 

Any ideas on what we saw?



#2 Araguaia

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 02:46 PM

Additional info: the flashes were brighter than nearby Jupiter at magnitude -2.  They only faded as the object sank into the murk to the SSE.



#3 justfred

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 02:59 PM

It does sound like a tumbler. Did it appear to be a point source, like a satellite?



#4 Kaydubbed

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 03:01 PM

A meteor skimming the atmosphere, a tumbling and flaring satellite...could be a hundred things!



#5 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 03:06 PM

Agree with probably a tumbler

 tumblin dice      rocking and rolling

  

 

  The Stones   Exile on main street 1971



#6 Araguaia

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 03:09 PM

It does sound like a tumbler. Did it appear to be a point source, like a satellite?

Yes, point source.

 

I assume a tumbling satellite is malfunctioning, perhaps due to re-entry?  What else would set it to tumble?



#7 rkinnett

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 03:19 PM

Not a tumbling satellite.  A spinning satellite.  There are many reflective spinners up there, and many flash much brighter than Jupiter.  That orbit track is also not uncommon.



#8 rkinnett

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 03:21 PM

If you happen to know approximately what time it was (within 5 minutes or so) then you can figure out which specific satellite it was.



#9 t_image

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 05:05 PM

There is smoke about, but it thinned out a bit over the weekend, and we had some young visiting researchers so I did a short outreach session last night to show them Jupiter, Saturn, and some bright clusters.

 

About an hour after sunset, we saw an object streaming overhead, moving just like a satellite, but flashing VERY bright every few seconds.  The flashes actually reflected off the smoky haze.  They were a bit yellowish, perhaps due to the smoke.

 

There was no sound even though we were in deep silence - even a plane at 10 thousand meters would be heard easily.  And the flashes were way too bright to be from an aircraft unless it was carrying an antiaircraft searchlight.  And they all seemed of equal brightness as the object crossed the sky, as if they were pointed at us.

 

I thought it could be an Iridium-type flash, but it kept flashing continuously.  A tumbling satellite?  The orbit was strange - roughly NNW to SSE, not polar or equatorial.  It did not disappear crossing the terminator - perhaps it did not cross it while we had it in sight.

 

Any ideas on what we saw?

Not really strange.

 

I think I still am continually more surprised by observers who don't bother to make or report precise observation details (exact time of observation), speed (how long it took from sky point A to B),

than the posting observers are at what they think is a strange or uncommon event experienced....

 

There isn't really support for precise speculation of questioning the strangeness of orbit or whether it was Iridium type if you can't bother to offer to readers something more than "about an hour after sunset."

 

Maybe it was an alien spacecraft, a drone, a black stealth helicopter, or orbiting spacecraft.

Even though there are nice resources to determine satellites and such,

it's a waste without good observational data.

 

FWIW, given certain times of years, satellites can be brighter than one supposes.

One can also under/over estimate the brightness of an object without objective measuring methods.

 

Geodesic satellites are designed to 'flash',

like this one I filmed:

https://www.youtube....h?v=7PBwrfwTXUE

"humanity star" was another geodesic with no point but advertising a rocket company.


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#10 Araguaia

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 05:15 AM

Not really strange.

 

I think I still am continually more surprised by observers who don't bother to make or report precise observation details (exact time of observation), speed (how long it took from sky point A to B),

than the posting observers are at what they think is a strange or uncommon event experienced....

 

 

Sorry for the "waste", but we were out without phones or any devices that might tell the time.  Not every session has to be fully instrumented.  It is possible to enjoy the sky without knowing the exact time.

 

However, I can tell you that the object came from Hercules and crossed Sagittarius between Saturn and Kaus Borealis, before continuing in the direction of Indus.  No doubt that is enough information to ID a bright spinning satellite. 



#11 zleonis

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 08:13 AM

I saw something similar - a slowly flashing object that was much brighter than a typical satellite, certainly brighter than Jupiter. According to Heavens Above, some Falcon 9 rocket debris matched its trajectory, and Cloudy Nights member t_image suggested that this could be debris from the Starlink launch: https://www.cloudyni...lare/?p=9584584. I'm not an especially seasoned observer, but it was the most striking satellite pass I've seen by a wide margin. 



#12 SabiaJD

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 04:51 PM

 

Yep, there is a lot of bright tumbling or flashing stuff up there. Catching more of it this year. Node 64  PA

 

http://goskysentinel.../viewer/2637693   (Moon on horizon)

 

http://www.goskysent..._005600_000.jpg  (again Moon on horizon)



#13 t_image

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 08:35 PM

Sorry for the "waste", but we were out without phones or any devices that might tell the time.  Not every session has to be fully instrumented.  It is possible to enjoy the sky without knowing the exact time.

 

However, I can tell you that the object came from Hercules and crossed Sagittarius between Saturn and Kaus Borealis, before continuing in the direction of Indus.  No doubt that is enough information to ID a bright spinning satellite. 

Thanks for your patience with my rant,

'of course' I'm reacting to the phenomenon of posters that always do this and not specifically towards you particularly....

I suspected you might be without phone or device as often people want to maintain their night vision while doing only visual.

However there are easy tricks one can do to mark the moment in time (like taking note of what one is standing and what familiar stars are visible in reference to terrestrial landmarks that can be calibrated either that night or an a later date with a timepiece (as the motion of the sky is predictable).....

as to your

"No doubt that is enough information to ID a bright spinning satellite......"

not really, that's not how these things work. You are making a lot of assumptions.

  • One cannot assume just because one saw an object "bright" that it is always bright.

Satellites 36,000km that can usually be dimmer than mag. 12 can flare to mag. 2 with the right conditions.

 

  • one cannot assume there are no other satellites around when one particular is seen.

Many objects pass on similar paths, with maybe just moments or minutes apart.

http://stuffin.space

If you are not regularly tracking satellites with sensitive equipment you may not notice this, and instead be led to believe otherwise by the much smaller selection of satellites that are often visually resolved or happen to pass through an eyepiece...

But it is wrong to think that satellites are few and far between and the ones that are dim are always dim.....

  • One also cannot assume that the object always exhibits such behavior.

Sometimes satellites break and amateurs notice.

Amateur satellite observers were helpful to JAXA with it's Hitomi X-Ray telescope satellite that broke because they notice irregularities that gave clues that JAXA didn't have access to with lost telemetry comms.....

"Amateur satellite trackers played a vital role in confirming and chronicling the tumble of Hitomi in orbit."......

https://www.skyandte...y-now-unlikely/

Who's to say that you could have noticed something going awry that shouldn't have been like that.???

 

Everyone is free to observe how they wish and we all have different styles,

but there are consequences to not having better information.

 

It's like someone saying they heard a ghost train. And then someone else says "no you didn't, it was probably real."

It would be much easier to convince the one that it was indeed real if there were more data,

like: "I heard the ghost train at 9PM"

then the informed could say: "no, you heard the regular train from X that arrives at Y station at 9:05PM. You can look it up on the schedule.

Nothing "very strange" here at all. Very normal.......Just you never noticed before......




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