Light in the sky at 2:00 a.m. Central Standard Time

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Gerg1996

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<p>I live out in the country in Mid Minnesota and enjoy the pitch-black darkness of the night sky when I get the chance.&nbsp; I scan the sky for meteors, satellites and a possible viewing of the space station occasionally.&nbsp; On July 3rd or 4th, I can't really remember which, at around 2:00 a.m. I witnessed something that struck me as odd.</p><p>I was looking at Jupiter and marveling at how bright it was that morning when I noticed a bright star to the left of Jupiter that I hadn't seen before. It immediately began to grow in brightness until it was approximately about 3 times larger and brighter than Jupiter itself. Then it started to fade and shrink into a small brown dot then disappeared altogether.</p><p>At first I thought it&nbsp;might be&nbsp;a plane or a jet, but the light just didn't look right for that. If it were a plane, the light would have also been moving and I should have heard the engine. If it would have been a jet, it would have been too far up in the sky to generate such a bright light at that particular&nbsp;angle. The entire viewing lasted about 7 seconds.</p><p>The best way for me to describe it's position where I saw it is that it was straight to the left of Jupiter and if I held my arm out straight, the width of my hand away.</p><p>Is it possible that I was lucky enough to catch sight of an exploding star or other celestial body? I wasn't using any viewing apparatus just to clarify that too.</p><p>I don't suppose that there is much hype about things like this to actually verify it or not. I was just curious and thought it was pretty neat to see.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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aphh

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<p>A phenomena similar to what you saw and described is often asked about here, and the most likely suspect is a Iridium satellite flare. </p><p>The satellite is coming at you when it changes it's attitude. This results in the solar panel getting very bright momentarily and then gradually fading away. Because the satellite is coming to your direction (or going away) it doesn't seem to move in the sky at all.</p><p>When I first saw a Iridium flare I felt exactly like you did. Momentarily the brightness is so high, that the flash could be seen even in daylight (if you knew where to look at the right moment).&nbsp;</p><p>Ofcourse there might be another explanation, but Iridium is probably the most likely one. There is a website that tracks also Iridium flares, you might want to Google to see whether the flash you saw is listed.</p><p>Edit: actually, no need to Google: http://www.heavens-above.com/ (just choose your location and then see the Iridium section of the website).&nbsp;</p>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>A phenomena similar to what you saw and described is often asked about here, and the most likely suspect is a Iridium satellite flare. The satellite is coming at you when it changes it's attitude. This results in the solar panel getting very bright momentarily and then gradually fading away. Because the satellite is coming to your direction (or going away) it doesn't seem to move in the sky at all.When I first saw a Iridium flare I felt exactly like you did. Momentarily the brightness is so high, that the flash could be seen even in daylight (if you knew where to look at the right moment).&nbsp;Ofcourse there might be another explanation, but Iridium is probably the most likely one. There is a website that tracks also Iridium flares, you might want to Google to see whether the flash you saw is listed.Edit: actually, no need to Google: http://www.heavens-above.com/ (just choose your location and then see the Iridium section of the website).&nbsp; <br />Posted by aphh</DIV><br /><br />You are correct that it is an Iridium, but your explanation of the flare mechanism is not right.</p><p>The Iridiums communication satellites have 3 Antennas, about the size of the door of your home, spaced 120 degrees apart mounted&nbsp;about 40 degrees from vertical. Their alignment is precisely controlled to provide the proper radio coverage. The antennas are covered in a silvery material to control heat, which would warp the antennas and degrade the performance.</p><p>The antenna facing the sun reflects the sun into a spot. As the satellite moves in it's rather high orbit, the spot moves along the surface of the earth. If you are at the center of the spot as it passes you, the Iridiums can be as bright as Magnitude -9, far brighter than any planet ever gets. If you are off to the side, it is dimmer. The Heaven's-Above page only lists flares brighter than Mag 0, there are many dimmer ones that they don't list that can be easily seen.</p><p>The motion during a flare is slow because it is so high an orbit, not because it is moving toward or away from you. Not only is the satellite twice as far away compared to the ISS (Iridiums ~777km vs ISS ~ 344 km), but the orbit takes longer. The ISS orbit is about 91 1/2 minutes, the Iridium orbit is about 100 1/2 minutes. The Iridiums do move, just much slower. If you grab a pair of binoculars, you can follow them for quite a while after the flare ends bnefore they get too faint as they contiune moving across the sky.</p><p>There are&nbsp;11 satellites in each of 6 planes, one fllowing the other, so if one flare is listed, there may also be ones (not as bright) 9 minutes earlier and later If you look at roughly the same spot in the sky at those times, you may see them.</p><p>If you examine the listed flares you will notice over a period of a few days a week, there will be a series at about the same time, and the same position in the sky. The reason for this is the sun is in roughly the same position, and each satellite passes through the location where that spot is reflected in the same direction back to the ground.</p><p>For example, for me I have one series (4) in the west at ~ 44 degrees elevation between 3:40 and 3:42 AM over 5 days, Another(2) in the SW at 73 degrees elevation over 2 days (This series is just ending), and a third in the west with 8 flares during the next week at 15-20 degrees elevation around 2250 (10:50 PM). The reason there are so many of the low elevation ones is that when the angle is low, the circular spot hits the earths surface at a low angle, making the spot of the surface an elongated ellipse. This means the illuminated spot covers more area, so more flares can be seen, though they are not as bright due to the greater distance and larger amount of air the light must pass through.</p><p>If you look at the same spot in th sky around the same time on the days between listed flares you can see other flares that are not as bright if you keep an eye out. When I am meteor observing and one of these areas is in my field of view during many days, I can see some almost every day at the proper time, evn down to 4th magnitude.</p><p>Here's a good explanation of the Iridium Flares:</p><p>http://www.satobs.org/iridium.html</p><p>MW</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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aphh

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<p>Thanks for the in-depth explanation.</p><p>I kind of lost interest in the phenomena when I learned about the Iridium network in the sky. But now I think I might be able to use Iridium as a study for calculating orbit of a spacecraft with the parameters that can be seen and timed.</p><p>To calculate the orbit of a spacecraft three observations of the object are required. The flash would give me the satellites altitude when it is obviously in direct line of sight with the sun. Next I'd need to spot the same satellite for the second time to determine the orbital period and start from there.&nbsp;</p>
 
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Gerg1996

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<p>Thanks for responding so quickly and also for the additional links info on those Iridium flares.</p><p>As I read my&nbsp;own post, and remembering that I have no clue as to which planet is where,&nbsp;it may not have been Jupiter that this happened next to. This planet in question, was in the location of where Venus is usually&nbsp;positioned at about 6:00 a.m. in the southeastern sky. (my lack of information here is staggering I know, lol).&nbsp; I would also like to point out my lack of experience on locating such things in the sky using azimuths and such. So when I clicked on those links you gave me, I had no idea what I was looking at.</p><p>&nbsp;Just to clarify (as I am not as technological as I would like to be), the sun causes these Iridium flares by reflecting&nbsp;off of&nbsp;some part of the satellite. Whether it be the solar panels or other shiny part of the housing on these satellites, right?&nbsp; If that is the case,&nbsp;here is the part I am having trouble with.&nbsp; At 2:00 a.m. the sun is almost at the opposite side of the earth from my position and the position of the satellite the flare would be bouncing off of. In other words, it would have been&nbsp;totally hidden in&nbsp;Earth's shadow, would it not?</p><p>Then again,&nbsp;it&nbsp;could just be wishful&nbsp;deducing that steers my bizarre sense of logic in the other direction...&nbsp;<img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-tongue-out.gif" border="0" alt="Tongue out" title="Tongue out" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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aphh

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Thanks for responding so quickly and also for the additional links info on those Iridium flares.As I read my&nbsp;own post, and remembering that I have no clue as to which planet is where,&nbsp;it may not have been Jupiter that this happened next to. This planet in question, was in the location of where Venus is usually&nbsp;positioned at about 6:00 a.m. in the southeastern sky. (my lack of information here is staggering I know, lol).&nbsp; I would also like to point out my lack of experience on locating such things in the sky using azimuths and such. So when I clicked on those links you gave me, I had no idea what I was looking at.&nbsp;Just to clarify (as I am not as technological as I would like to be), the sun causes these Iridium flares by reflecting&nbsp;off of&nbsp;some part of the satellite. Whether it be the solar panels or other shiny part of the housing on these satellites, right?&nbsp; If that is the case,&nbsp;here is the part I am having trouble with.&nbsp; At 2:00 a.m. the sun is almost at the opposite side of the earth from my position and the position of the satellite the flare would be bouncing off of. In other words, it would have been&nbsp;totally hidden in&nbsp;Earth's shadow, would it not?Then again,&nbsp;it&nbsp;could just be wishful&nbsp;deducing that steers my bizarre sense of logic in the other direction...&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /> Posted by Gerg1996</DIV></p><p>The planet is most likely Jupiter, as it is very well visible at this time. <br /><br />Venus is always hanging quite near to the Sun, as it's orbit is closer to the Sun than the orbit of Earth. This is why you always see Venus either early in the morning or early in the evening (when Venus is visible).</p><p>The Iridium flare can occur at 2:00 a.m., because the satellite is high in the sky. So the satellite can see the Sun from it's position, even if the Sun is at it's lowest position in the night, which isn't very low behind the horizon during summertime in the North.</p><p>The Azimuth is simply the direction in degrees, where the Azimuth 0 is the North, 90 is East and so on. Elevation in degrees is the apparent altitude from horizon. The moon's diameter is about one-half degree in the sky, so elevation 20 degrees would mean that the altitude from horizon would be roughly 40 moon diameters. Elevation 90 degrees is hanging directly above you. &nbsp;</p><p>If you give the coordinates of your location for the web page, it will calculate these angles for your current location.</p><p>Edit: I forgot about magnitude, which is the brightness of the object. <br /><br />The reference brightness is magnitude 0, which is close to the brightness of the brightest star in the sky. The scale is logarithmic, and magnitude -1 would be 25 times brighter than the brightest star. Magnitude -2 would be 25 times 25 times brighter. Magnitude 1 would be 25 times dimmer than the brightest star and magnitude 2 would be 25 times 25 times dimmer and so on.</p><p>Using binoculars objects of magnitude 2 to 3 are visible on a good night and good location.&nbsp;</p>
 
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Gerg1996

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>The planet is most likely Jupiter, as it is very well visible at this time. Venus is always hanging quite near to the Sun, as it's orbit is closer to the Sun than the orbit of Earth. This is why you always see Venus either early in the morning or early in the evening (when Venus is visible).The Iridium flare can occur at 2:00 a.m., because the satellite is high in the sky. So the satellite can see the Sun from it's position, even if the Sun is at it's lowest position in the night, which isn't very low behind the horizon during summertime in the North.&nbsp; <br />Posted by aphh</DIV><br /><br />Thanks for the clarification on Jupiter.</p><p>&nbsp;As I looked at photo after photo of Iridium Flares, none of them truly resembled what I saw.&nbsp; All of the flare photographs showed a bright line with a brighter dot or bulge somewhere in the middle of the line.&nbsp; The light I&nbsp;witnessed was perfectly round, just like a star or planet.&nbsp;It had no line running through it&nbsp;and it was perfectly stationary too, which was easy to see being so&nbsp;near to Jupiter's location.&nbsp; Come to think of it, it was not a sharp glare but rather a very dull-edged light. that was another reason I felt it was not a light produced by something close to the earth.</p><p>The angle of this phenomenon was at about 40 degrees in altitude, and located in the south southwest&nbsp;azimuth or about 165 degrees.&nbsp; The sun was at an approximate&nbsp;-45 degree angle from my horizon.&nbsp; In other words, if I drew a straight line from the object to the sun's location at that time, it&nbsp;appeared that it would&nbsp;pass almost directly through the earth.&nbsp; I am a carpenter by trade which somewhat helps me roughly calculate angles from a level line at a glance. The&nbsp;possition I can't see at that time is where the azimuth of the sun is at 2 a.m.&nbsp; If the angle of the sun's azimuth is further south from where I am estimating it at, then it would be able to peek around the southern edge of Earth to shine upon this object. I also read that it is possible for the glare from one object to hit another orbiting object which could relay the reflection further past Earth's horizon.</p><p>&nbsp;Obviously we will never be able to confirm this one way or another but it sure would be nice to find a source of recoded or estimated iridium flashes that went beyond the "previous 48 hours". Oh well.</p><p>Thanks again for your input, I&nbsp;really learned a lot!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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aphh

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<p>There is always the possibility, that you saw something other than a Iridium flare. <br /><br />However, I saw it myself last summer for the first time, and I was sure it had to be something truly odd. It didn't seem to move at all, seemed to be quite high in the very early morning sky (app. 45 degrees). The ball of light just suddenly appeared, didn't seem to move. And then faded away only after a few seconds. Only further studying convinced me, that it was the Iridium.</p><p>On earth, on a suitable location the opposite horizons are roughly the same distance away. Hence if the Sun was 45 degrees below the horizon and the light appeared 40 degrees above the horizon, and accounting for the curvature of the earth, the difference is only little more than 5 degrees. That might be within the margin of error. Earth's athmosphere bends light one-half degrees on the horizon level, which further lessens the gap.</p><p>I'm not denying the possibility of something other than Iridium, but it still seems to me the most likely explanation.&nbsp;</p><p>Here is a suggestion you might try, use Heavens Above website to find the next Iridium flash event in your region and try to catch a glimpse of that, then compare the results?&nbsp;</p>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Thanks for the clarification on Jupiter.&nbsp;As I looked at photo after photo of Iridium Flares, none of them truly resembled what I saw.&nbsp; All of the flare photographs showed a bright line with a brighter dot or bulge somewhere in the middle of the line.&nbsp; The light I&nbsp;witnessed was perfectly round, just like a star or planet.&nbsp;It had no line running through it&nbsp;and it was perfectly stationary too, which was easy to see being so&nbsp;near to Jupiter's location.&nbsp; Come to think of it, it was not a sharp glare but rather a very dull-edged light. that was another reason I felt it was not a light produced by something close to the earth.The angle of this phenomenon was at about 40 degrees in altitude, and located in the south southwest&nbsp;azimuth or about 165 degrees.&nbsp; The sun was at an approximate&nbsp;-45 degree angle from my horizon.&nbsp; In other words, if I drew a straight line from the object to the sun's location at that time, it&nbsp;appeared that it would&nbsp;pass almost directly through the earth.&nbsp; I am a carpenter by trade which somewhat helps me roughly calculate angles from a level line at a glance. The&nbsp;possition I can't see at that time is where the azimuth of the sun is at 2 a.m.&nbsp; If the angle of the sun's azimuth is further south from where I am estimating it at, then it would be able to peek around the southern edge of Earth to shine upon this object. I also read that it is possible for the glare from one object to hit another orbiting object which could relay the reflection further past Earth's horizon.&nbsp;Obviously we will never be able to confirm this one way or another but it sure would be nice to find a source of recoded or estimated iridium flashes that went beyond the "previous 48 hours". Oh well.Thanks again for your input, I&nbsp;really learned a lot!&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />Posted by Gerg1996</DIV></p><p>The line that you see in the photos is a time exposure, showing the motion over 10 or 15 seconds. The brightest part is in the middle, in photos, the flare is so bright it overexposes the film or CCD making it appear larger. It is not.</p><p>If you tell us the nearest town, we can go back and see if an Iridium Flare was visible from your location at that time.</p><p>From Mineanapolis and St Cloud, the sun is only 22 degrees below the horizon at 2AM at this time of year, so it's not as low as you think. It can easily illuminate a satellite in a 770 km high orbit. If you load your location into Heaven's above, and look for tonights visible satellites, as well as tomorrow morning's, you will see that at this time of year they go all night long almost without interruption, since the sun is only 20 degrees or so below the horizon.</p><p>Just for fun, what is the altitude that you estimate&nbsp;for&nbsp;Jupiter, which is far and away the brightest object in the southern sky?</p><p>If you give me the nearest major city, I can&nbsp;tell you the exact elevation of Jupiter, and the sun, and we can ID the Iridium.&nbsp;Once we have, I can tell you exactly where it was in relation to Jupiter, if you give me the nearest major city.</p><p>Did you enter your location into the Heaven's above page? You can go further back than 48 hours BTW.</p><p>&nbsp;BTW, how sure are you about the time?</p><p>For all the other satellites, the exact location is not critical since they are visble over a wide area. And they are visible for many minutes But for Iridiums, your location must be accurate to within 5 miles or so, since the spot on the ground is so small. And since they only last 10-20 seconds, the exact time is crucial.</p><p>I know you don't think it moved, but since from your description it almost certainly is an Iridium, it did move, just not very much. The motion is&nbsp;MUCH slower than the ISS, so it is barely noticeable over the 10 or 15 seconds.</p><p>Once you have your location in Heaven's above, look for future Iridiums; once you see another one, you will be convinced. <img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-smile.gif" border="0" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /></p><p>Wayne</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>There is always the possibility, that you saw something other than a Iridium flare. However, I saw it myself last summer for the first time, and I was sure it had to be something truly odd. It didn't seem to move at all, seemed to be quite high in the very early morning sky (app. 45 degrees). The ball of light just suddenly appeared, didn't seem to move. And then faded away only after a few seconds. Only further studying convinced me, that it was the Iridium.On earth, on a suitable location the opposite horizons are roughly the same distance away. Hence if the Sun was 45 degrees below the horizon and the light appeared 40 degrees above the horizon, and accounting for the curvature of the earth, the difference is only little more than 5 degrees. That might be within the margin of error. Earth's athmosphere bends light one-half degrees on the horizon level, which further lessens the gap.I'm not denying the possibility of something other than Iridium, but it still seems to me the most likely explanation.&nbsp;Here is a suggestion you might try, use Heavens Above website to find the next Iridium flash event in your region and try to catch a glimpse of that, then compare the results?&nbsp; <br />Posted by aphh</DIV><br /><br />I did some checking, the furthest north city I could easily access was Argyle. The sun was 19.5 degrees below the horizon at 2AM on the 4th</p><p>The most southern was Rochester, it was 23.5 degrees below the horizon at 2AM.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>And just to show it is possible, in St Cloud on the morning of the 4th at 1:15 AM there was an Iridium visible at 46 degrees elevation at azimuth 200 degrees (SSW) at Magntude -5 (brigher than Venus ever gets). Since midnight is at 1AM during CDT, that's as low as the sun ever gets below the horizon.</p><p>I'm not saying that's the one that Gerg saw, it's just to show that it's possible.</p><p>Wayne</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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Gerg1996

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<p>Crap, I screwed up on the azimuth. It was south-south<strong>east</strong>. Sorry about that.&nbsp; South-southwest would, (even to me <img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-laughing.gif" border="0" alt="Laughing" title="Laughing" />)&nbsp;obviously be in direct sunlight. And upon further review of&nbsp;my horizon, I went outside to look at the tree-line again, the altitude was probably between 30 and 40 degrees.</p><p>&nbsp;The largest city I live near, about 4 miles east of me, is St. Cloud.&nbsp; I am positive about it being very close to 2 a.m. but not positive about the date.</p><p>I looked on that website for anything that would bring me back further than the "previous 48 hours" but didn't see any links. That doesn't mean that they weren't there, I just couldn't find them.</p><p>&nbsp;Thanks again, </p><p>Greg<br /></p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

Guest
<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Crap, I screwed up on the azimuth. It was south-southeast. Sorry about that.&nbsp; South-southwest would, (even to me )&nbsp;obviously be in direct sunlight. And upon further review of&nbsp;my horizon, I went outside to look at the tree-line again, the altitude was probably between 30 and 40 degrees.&nbsp;The largest city I live near, about 4 miles east of me, is St. Cloud.&nbsp; I am positive about it being very close to 2 a.m. but not positive about the date.I looked on that website for anything that would bring me back further than the "previous 48 hours" but didn't see any links. That doesn't mean that they weren't there, I just couldn't find them.&nbsp;Thanks again, Greg <br />Posted by Gerg1996</DIV><br /><br />Pretty good guess for me picking St Cloud then eh?</p><p>OK, on the Heaven's above page, use the select from map function at the top to pick your location.</p><p>Here's a starting point, the link for St Cloud:</p><p>&nbsp;http://heavens-above.com/?lat=45.561&lng=-94.162&alt=304&loc=Saint+Cloud&TZ=CST</p><p>Once you have done that and it comes up with your latitude and longitude, BOOKMARK THAT PAGE.</p><p>Then whenever you open H-A it will come up with your location.</p><p>Now click on Iridium flares for the next 7 days. It will show flares from the 13 to the 20th, or thereabout.</p><p>At the top there is a link called "Prev". Click on that.</p><p>It will then give you&nbsp; a list of flares from the 6th to the 13th.</p><p>Click Prev again, and it will give you a list of flares from June 29 to July 5th.</p><p>Here's the ones that are close: (from St Cloud, you are a little west, but it's close enough)</p><p><table border="1" cellpadding="5"><tbody><tr><td>03 Jul
 
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Gerg1996

Guest
<p>Thanks much to the both of you!</p><p>I missed the one you pointed out for this evening. I got here about 15 minutes too late.&nbsp;</p><p>I do intend to keep looking for those until I see another one of a similar magnitude. It must have been the later-in-the-morning&nbsp;one, because it was definitely to the left of Jupiter.</p><p>Now I can dazzle my family with my new knowledge and we can keep searching the skies for interesting things to watch for. <img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-cool.gif" border="0" alt="Cool" title="Cool" /></p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Thanks much to the both of you!I missed the one you pointed out for this evening. I got here about 15 minutes too late.&nbsp;I do intend to keep looking for those until I see another one of a similar magnitude. It must have been the later-in-the-morning&nbsp;one, because it was definitely to the left of Jupiter.Now I can dazzle my family with my new knowledge and we can keep searching the skies for interesting things to watch for. <br />Posted by Gerg1996</DIV><br /><br />Good Luck. Just keep looking. It's very important to have a timepiece accurate to within a few seconds, since if you're 30 seconds late you will miss it.</p><p>Did you get your location set up OK in H-A?</p><p>I'll tell you, a mag -8 (they're not common, the spot has to track right over you) is an awe inspiring sight!</p><p>One other thing to mention, there are Iridium flares that occur which are not listed. Expired craft are placed in a higher parking orbit (and therefore are no longer controlled as far as the alignment of the 3 antenna) and those that have lost control are not listed on the Heaven's Above page, since with no control, the flares can not be predicted. Once you've seen enough, they are easy to recognize anywhere in the sky.</p><p>Be sure to let us know when you see one for sure!</p><p>Wayne</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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CalliArcale

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Observers have occasionally observed the ISS to flare.&nbsp; The culprit is almost certainly its massive solar arrays, easily the largest ever flown, which account for most of its brightness anyway.&nbsp; They pivot and rotate.&nbsp; (Well, the port side ones rotate.&nbsp; The starboard ones are not allowed to rotate on that axis right now because of a problem with the solar alpha rotary joint on that side.)&nbsp; It is very bright, but will abruptly fade away as it enters the Earth's shadow.&nbsp; Even when not flaring, it can outshine Venus, and has occasionally been sighted in daylight! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Observers have occasionally observed the ISS to flare.&nbsp; The culprit is almost certainly its massive solar arrays, easily the largest ever flown, which account for most of its brightness anyway.&nbsp; They pivot and rotate.&nbsp; (Well, the port side ones rotate.&nbsp; The starboard ones are not allowed to rotate on that axis right now because of a problem with the solar alpha rotary joint on that side.)&nbsp; It is very bright, but will abruptly fade away as it enters the Earth's shadow.&nbsp; Even when not flaring, it can outshine Venus, and has occasionally been sighted in daylight! <br />Posted by CalliArcale</DIV><br /><br />Yes, I have seen the ISS flare once to about 3 magnitudes brighter than it was before the flare. That was quite a few years ago when it was much smaller though.</p><p>The OP would not have confused the ISS with an Iridium though, I suspect, due to it's rapid motion.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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Gerg1996

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<p>Obviously I have never even heard of "flares" before this thread but now that I know what they are, I can honestly say that I have never seen one previous to this one. I have watched the ISS float on overhead though during the early evening hours. The sun shined brightly on it and it&nbsp;seemed huge even for my naked eyes.</p><p>I never had to confirm that sighting though, it was pretty obvious.&nbsp;<img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-tongue-out.gif" border="0" alt="Tongue out" title="Tongue out" /> </p><p>Seeing that amazing thing&nbsp;drift&nbsp;by certainly added to my&nbsp;excitement about being lucky enough to live in this century.<br /></p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Obviously I have never even heard of "flares" before this thread but now that I know what they are, I can honestly say that I have never seen one previous to this one. I have watched the ISS float on overhead though during the early evening hours. The sun shined brightly on it and it&nbsp;seemed huge even for my naked eyes.I never had to confirm that sighting though, it was pretty obvious.&nbsp; Seeing that amazing thing&nbsp;drift&nbsp;by certainly added to my&nbsp;excitement about being lucky enough to live in this century. <br />Posted by Gerg1996</DIV><br /><br />Now that you know they are there, though, they're a great way to astound your neigbors and friends. Like I said, when you see a -8 mag flare for the first time, you won't forget it.&nbsp;</p><p>Yes the ISS is very bright and very fast. The timing and direction are not critical, since it's so obvious.</p><p>I always wave at the crew on board, though they probably can't see it :)</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Now that you know they are there, though, they're a great way to astound your neigbors and friends. Like I said, when you see a -8 mag flare for the first time, you won't forget it.&nbsp;Yes the ISS is very bright and very fast. The timing and direction are not critical, since it's so obvious.I always wave at the crew on board, though they probably can't see it :) <br />Posted by MeteorWayne</DIV><br /><br />Just thought I'd give an account of my satellite observations from this morning's meteor session. </p><p>I observed for 2.835 hours (170.1 minutes) between 1:20 and 4: 20 AM. During that time I plotted 8 meteors; 2 Perseids, 2 Antihelion meteors, 1 Scutid, and 3 Sporadics. Conditions weren't too good for the early part since the 91% illuminated moon was 11 degrees above the horizon when I started, brightening the sky significantly. It set at 2:50 AM, so after that, the sky was OK. Still, my first 2 Perseids of the season were quite rewarding.</p><p>Anyhoo, while meteor observing, that remains my primary foucus, so any satellites I see are not ones I know about in advance, If they pass through my field of view, I note them in my records. One day I'll comment more about the detection process when I am focused on meteors, there's some interesting perceptions on perception in that discussion.</p><p>During this time I saw 8 satellites.</p><p>One was an unlisted Iridium, most likely one of the out of control ones not included on the Heaven's Above page. Like I said, when you've seen a lot, they are unmistakable. It got a bit brighter than Jupiter, mag -3, and was low on the eastern horizon, in Pisces, at 2:16 AM. I'm still doing research to ID which one, but that will have to wait until after my meteor report is filed.</p><p>From looking them up on Heavens-Above, I was able to ID 4 of the others; SeeSat 1 (launched in 1978),&nbsp;a Spot 3 Rocket,&nbsp;a Reseurs 1 Rocket, and an OAO 3 rocket (launched in 1972). All were in high orbits, ranging from 638 to 798 km.</p><p>Three&nbsp;I could not ID, one was very bright, near mag +2. The final one of the night was moving VERY fast. It moved much faster than the ISS across the sky, so must be within months of decaying. It may have been too dim to be listed on the H-A page. I too will try and figure out what it was. I'd estimate from the speed it was in a less than 300 km high orbit.</p><p>MW</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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Gerg1996

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Just thought I'd give an account of my satellite observations from this morning's meteor session. I observed for 2.835 hours (170.1 minutes) between 1:20 and 4: 20 AM. During that time I plotted 8 meteors; 2 Perseids, 2 Antihelion meteors, 1 Scutid, and 3 Sporadics. Conditions weren't too good for the early part since the 91% illuminated moon was 11 degrees above the horizon when I started, brightening the sky significantly. It set at 2:50 AM, so after that, the sky was OK. Still, my first 2 Perseids of the season were quite rewarding.Anyhoo, while meteor observing, that remains my primary foucus, so any satellites I see are not ones I know about in advance, If they pass through my field of view, I note them in my records. One day I'll comment more about the detection process when I am focused on meteors, there's some interesting perceptions on perception in that discussion.During this time I saw 8 satellites.One was an unlisted Iridium, most likely one of the out of control ones not included on the Heaven's Above page. Like I said, when you've seen a lot, they are unmistakable. It got a bit brighter than Jupiter, mag -3, and was low on the eastern horizon, in Pisces, at 2:16 AM. I'm still doing research to ID which one, but that will have to wait until after my meteor report is filed.From looking them up on Heavens-Above, I was able to ID 4 of the others; SeeSat 1 (launched in 1978),&nbsp;a Spot 3 Rocket,&nbsp;a Reseurs 1 Rocket, and an OAO 3 rocket (launched in 1972). All were in high orbits, ranging from 638 to 798 km.Three&nbsp;I could not ID, one was very bright, near mag +2. The final one of the night was moving VERY fast. It moved much faster than the ISS across the sky, so must be within months of decaying. It may have been too dim to be listed on the H-A page. I too will try and figure out what it was. I'd estimate from the speed it was in a less than 300 km high orbit.MW <br />Posted by MeteorWayne</DIV><br /><br />I always wanted to get more into searching the skies with a telescope, but I have far too many other interests and hobbies already.&nbsp; So much to explore and so little time.</p><p>Maybe some day&nbsp;life will slow down a bit more for me and I will be able to&nbsp;spend more time gazing at the stars.</p><p>I have countless photos I have downloaded from Space.com and use them as my wallpaper.&nbsp;It's all so fascinating. But then again, there are just as many things&nbsp;surrounding&nbsp;us in our daily lives that are equally as fascinating.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>I always wanted to get more into searching the skies with a telescope, but I have far too many other interests and hobbies already.&nbsp; So much to explore and so little time.Maybe some day&nbsp;life will slow down a bit more for me and I will be able to&nbsp;spend more time gazing at the stars.I have countless photos I have downloaded from Space.com and use them as my wallpaper.&nbsp;It's all so fascinating. But then again, there are just as many things&nbsp;surrounding&nbsp;us in our daily lives that are equally as fascinating.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />Posted by Gerg1996</DIV><br /><br />True indeed. Thta's why I concentrate on meteors....it's my passion. Telescope observing, satellites, and weather aremy part time hobbies :) <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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