Did anyone see a very bright point of light last Saturday?

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MorganW

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I live in Atlanta Georgia and on Saturday, June 21st at about 3am local time my neighbor and I saw a super bright point of light in the sky. It was roughly toward the southeast, but fairly high up in the sky. I didn't see any twinkling. Was it a planet?
 
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MeteorWayne

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We need a bit more information. If it only lasted a few seconds, it most likely what is called an Iridium Flare. They are common thoughout the night at this time of year.

If however, it was fairly close to the horizon, and was there for a long time, that would be Jupiter, the planet. It is quite bright at this time of year. Also up for a long time, but much dimmer and higher in the sky is the star Altair; at that elevation, it probably wouldn't be twinkling much.

Iridium Flares the reflection of the sun from the antenna of a communication satellite in a fairly high orbit.
If they are high in the sky. They usually last 5 or 10 seconds if high in the sky; ones closer to the horizon can last for 15 or 20 seconds.

The motion is pretty slow, and for a bright one, unless there is a star very close by, it's hard to notice.

They can get brighter than any other object in the sky except for the sun and moon!!

I guess it's about time I create a pinned Iridium Flare thread that we can refer people to :)

If you send me a PM with your exact location, I will help you set up a page at Heavens-Above.com where you can check on this one, as well as get predictions for future ones.

There were no scheduled ones (from currently in use Iridium Satellites) at that time and direction, but there are another dozen or so in orbit that are not controlled as tightly, so the times and sky location of the flares cannot be predicted. They look the same, you just don't know in advance where or when they will appear.

Welcome to Space.com!!

Meteor Wayne
 
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MorganW

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That's something I've never heard of before. Glad I learned something new today. Alas, we stared at this thing for at least 5 minutes and saw nary a twinkle or movement relative to the horizon. It sure was bright. Since I work normal hours, I haven't gotten up late (early?) in the last night or so to check if it's still in that part of the sky.
 
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MeteorWayne

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OK, go back and look at my reply. I added in some other possibilities. If you saw it for 5 minutes, it wasn't an Iridium.

So Jupiter and Altair seem like the most likely possibilities. Jupiter was certainly far and away the brightest object in the southeast.

Wayne
 
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MeteorWayne

Guest
For you, Jupiter rises just after midnight in the east, and reaches it's highest elevation due south at about 5:30 AM.

In August it will rise earlier and reach the highest elevation due south at about 1 AM.

Unfortunately, there aren't many bright stars or constellations around to help identify the location.
 
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