Unidentified Something???

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aimshaw

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Just a question. Last night (October 8, 2009) at around midnight in the Pittsburgh area I saw a bluish, white light in the sky. It kind of lit up the sky in pulses, similar to lightening, but it was more bluish than yellow, and there was no thunder following. It lasted about 10 to 20 seconds. Just after it stopped my satelite TV went out and had to boot back up again. The light was high in the southern sky.

My first though was that it was the moon hit they were talking about, but I woke up to find that event was taking place live on TV in the morning.

Does anyone know where I should look to find out what this might have been? Was it a meteor or a freak type of lighting? I'd love to know what this was last night.

aimshaw
 
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MeteorWayne

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My first guess (as usual) would be an Iridium satellite flare. How close are you to Pittsburgh? Is there another local town that gives a better description of your location? Can you pin down the time closer than "around midnight?"

certainly lightning was a possibility in that area based on the weather conditions last night.

But better location and time can discern whether the Iridium flares are a better explanation.
 
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aimshaw

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Between Butler and Evans City north of Pittsburgh was my location. I'm trying to pin down the time in my mind and I think it was around 11:45pm.

I did think first of lighting because there were clouds, but the bluish tint threw me off that a bit, and the fact that there wasn't any thunder. Yes I've seen lighting without hearing thunder, but the physics of the location of the light didn't seem right for that to happen.

In case it was a Iridium satellite flare, what is that?
 
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MeteorWayne

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A Hi, it's Wayne agayne :)

A second quick question. Did the whole sky light up, or did you see a point in the sky that was bright enough to light up the whole sky?

Certainly, the weather environment would have allowed lightning to light up the whole sky. I have seen that from thunderstorms several hundreds of miles away. So that would not be that unusual, and in fact would explain the bluish color and the pulsing.

Iridium flares are pointlike reflections from a particular type of satellite which can be brighter than anything else in the sky other than the sun or moon, but it sounds (looks :) ) more like it was distant lighting lighting up your sky.

From hundreds of miles away, while the light makes it from thunderstorms, the thunder doesn't (and it would be tens of minutes later, so unlikely to be noticed.)
 
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aimshaw

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Thanks Wayne

I saw the light lighting the clouds but I didn't see the origin of the light. The whole sky did not light up, just a bit of the clouds that I saw. The light was just overhead, and being really bad with distances, I don't know if that's hundreds of miles away or not.

So if it was lighting it didn't continue and I didn't hear any other noises. But yes lighting has definitely thrown off my DTV.

Amy
 
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kg

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aimshaw":7rpsqk5x said:
Does anyone know where I should look to find out what this might have been? Was it a meteor or a freak type of lighting? I'd love to know what this was last night.
aimshaw
Could it have possible been a Sprite? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprites_(lightning)

"Sprites are large scale electrical discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, or cumulonimbus, giving rise to a quite varied range of visual shapes flickering in the night sky. They are triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground.
Sprites are colored reddish-orange in the upper regions, with bluish hanging tendrils below, and can be preceded by a reddish halo...."
 
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MeteorWayne

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Unlikely, from what I've read, sprites are extremely faint.

"Red sprites and blue jets are upper atmospheric optical phenomena associated with thunderstorms that have only recently been documented using low light level television technology."


"Blue jets are a second high altitude optical phenomenon, distinct from sprites, observed above thunderstorms using low light television systems. As their name implies, blue jets are optical ejections from the top of the electrically active core regions of thunderstorms"

http://elf.gi.alaska.edu/

In any case, since both phenomena occur above active thunderstorms, it's far more likely that a lightning dicharge in the top of an active storm at some distance (which is far brighter) would be the source of anything lighting up the clouds.

Being curious (and Weather Wayne :) ) when I see distant lightning (not associated with thunder) I always go and take a look at the local, and if needed, regional radar to see how far away the storms are. It's astounding that storms 200+ miles away can still light up the sky over me, but I've verified that a number of times.
 
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