Bright "Star" then dimishes??

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JLindsay83

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Hello All, first time poster here. Saw something in last nights sky that has me puzzled as to what I saw. Last night being May 03, 2010. I was looking up at the sky around 9:00pm PST and a suddenly bright object caught my eye. It continued to get a bit bigger and brighter, then reversed and shrunk getting dimmer until it disappeared completely. I scanned the area for awhile longer not seeing anything. It was not moving across the sky, it was stationary. It just went from being someone dim, to getting bigger and brighter, then shrinking back down until there was nothing. What did I see? Thank you. If theres any other details you might need feel free to ask and I will answer if I can. By the way, the color was white, like any other star in the night sky.
 
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duluthdave

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It sounds to me like you saw an Iridium flare. They can be pretty impressive. You can go to http://www.heavens-above.com/ to find the times to see them from your location. There's lots of other good stuff on there too, like times for seeing ISS passes.
 
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Stellar_Optimist

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I remember when I saw an Iridium flare when I was 12 years old. I was so excited, I thought I had my first sighting of a UFO or something similar. After much research into mysterious flashes in the sky at night, I came to the conclusion that I had seen an Iridium flare. I was a little bummed out, as I was going through a kind of alien and UFO kick at the time. The interesting thing about it was that I was able to track the satellite visually after the flare (thanks to the persistently dark skies of northern British Columbia) without any optical aids.
 
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MeteorWayne

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Yes certainly an Iridium flare. They can be very impressive, almost 100 times brighter than Venus.

As far as tracking them when not flaring, I often see them during my meteor sessions. I note all sats in my field of view, and will often see the other Iridiums 9 minutes before and after a listed flare very faintly, and see many flares of 1st or second magnitude that Heaven's Above doesn't list.
 
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