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Flashing near-stationary object, 7/14/20 11:50pm PDT....anyone else?

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#1 OldManSky

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 01:52 AM

I'm doing an imaging run, and went outside to check on the fog...

In Cepheus, where the red dot is in the chart below, there is a rapidly flashing object, too small and too high to be a plane, and nearly stationary (appears to be moving ever so slightly south-east)...

Anyone else see this?

 

Very odd.  If it's a tumbling satellite, it's not moving much at all...

 

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#2 OldManSky

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 02:02 AM

By 11:59PM PDT it has moved to the position further south-east indicated below.

Still flashing like crazy...?

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#3 Ted Dobosz

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 02:56 AM

Possibly a Russian Molina satellite that has a highly elliptical orbit. When you view it and it is at the end of its ellipse i.e. the point part, then its movement to your line of sight may make it appear almost stationary as it turns the corner.

 

Ted


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#4 Astroman007

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 03:38 AM

Interesting. I've seen such things before. Just as described: flashing lots but moving oh-so-slowly.


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#5 Sleep Deprived

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 04:06 AM

Generally, a satellite wouldn't be flashing unless it was tumbling out of control.  How fast does it flash?  Maybe it could be a balloon with a strobe on it?  It would be nice to know if it is 10 miles away or 1000 miles away - maybe we will get similar reports from others on CN and see how widely spaced these reports are.

 

Have you tried to look on Heavens Above to determine what satellite it might be?


Edited by Sleep Deprived, 15 July 2020 - 04:07 AM.

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#6 OldManSky

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 05:14 AM

Generally, a satellite wouldn't be flashing unless it was tumbling out of control.  How fast does it flash?  Maybe it could be a balloon with a strobe on it?  It would be nice to know if it is 10 miles away or 1000 miles away - maybe we will get similar reports from others on CN and see how widely spaced these reports are.

 

Have you tried to look on Heavens Above to determine what satellite it might be?

Thanks.  I was kind of hoping someone would be out, could look at the same region, and see if they saw it.  That would help determine that it was high enough to be visible from other than my SoCal location :)

Flashing was somewhat random and very fast -- from 2 blinks per second to 1 blink per 3 seconds roughly. No regularity I could see after 15 minutes or so watching it.  It continued to move very slowly south-east, until the fog did me in.  But its flashing remained rapid and random the entire time -- it didn't look like reflection from a tumbling satellite (I've seen that plenty  of times).  

That's why I posted up -- it was very odd and out of the ordinary. 


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#7 ButterFly

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 05:33 AM

I saw something similar around that time as well at about north by northwest in AZ.  I thought it was a plane turning toward me.  It flashed about 3-4 times per second in bursts about a few second apart.  Plane so far.  Then it stopped flashing and it wasn't visible for about 20-30 seconds.  Then it started with the bursts again about three to four degrees further toward northeast.  That continued in chunks for about two more minutes and swept about twenty degrees of az.  By the time it was near the tall tree in the northeast, there was another satellite, about 4-5 mag passing about five degrees above it.  I thought the satellite was the object, but the object started with the flashing again before it got lost behind the tree.  I could use that second satellite to get a better time estimate.

 

I was dark adapted for about two hours at this point.  Even then, I should have been able to see the red or green from a plane.  It was an orangish color, about 2-3 mag.  A Molniya orbit would be in the right place, but that is a lot of tumbling.


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#8 Astroman007

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 05:23 PM

Thanks.  I was kind of hoping someone would be out, could look at the same region, and see if they saw it.  That would help determine that it was high enough to be visible from other than my SoCal location smile.gif

Flashing was somewhat random and very fast -- from 2 blinks per second to 1 blink per 3 seconds roughly. No regularity I could see after 15 minutes or so watching it.  It continued to move very slowly south-east, until the fog did me in.  But its flashing remained rapid and random the entire time -- it didn't look like reflection from a tumbling satellite (I've seen that plenty  of times).  

That's why I posted up -- it was very odd and out of the ordinary. 

Sounds very familiar. I've seen just that a number of times now over the years.

 

So much flashing for so little motion.


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#9 ButterFly

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 05:36 PM

It's the brightness that threw me off.  The other satellite nearby showed that that region was out of Earth's shadow.  But those highly elliptical orbits get rather high.  It's got to be out of control tumbling for those kinds of aperiodic bright flashes.


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#10 OldManSky

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 06:43 PM

I saw something similar around that time as well at about north by northwest in AZ.  I thought it was a plane turning toward me.  It flashed about 3-4 times per second in bursts about a few second apart.  Plane so far.  Then it stopped flashing and it wasn't visible for about 20-30 seconds.  Then it started with the bursts again about three to four degrees further toward northeast.  That continued in chunks for about two more minutes and swept about twenty degrees of az.  By the time it was near the tall tree in the northeast, there was another satellite, about 4-5 mag passing about five degrees above it.  I thought the satellite was the object, but the object started with the flashing again before it got lost behind the tree.  I could use that second satellite to get a better time estimate.

 

I was dark adapted for about two hours at this point.  Even then, I should have been able to see the red or green from a plane.  It was an orangish color, about 2-3 mag.  A Molniya orbit would be in the right place, but that is a lot of tumbling.

Sounds just like what I saw -- orangish color, about 2-3 mag.  No other color (I was dark-adapted as well).

All sorts of junk up there, huh? :)




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