unknown object

Status
Not open for further replies.
M

mad515

Guest
I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. On the evening of June 10 at approximately 10:45 p.m., in the southwest sky (in the vicinity of Virgo, Leo, and Bootes), I happened to look at the sky through a window in my house and I saw an object I at first thought was a planet. It was quite bright, similar to Jupiter. However, it was twinkling, so that ruled out a planet. It also was stationary, so it could not have been a plane. The strange thing about the object was that it quickly became dimmer and dimmer, until it vanished to the naked eye. Nearby stars to the object remained visible while this object dissappeared. Does anyone know what this could have been? Could it have been a nova or supernova? Did anyone else see it? Please note that I've been into astronomy for over 25 years and I wasn't drinking at the time I saw the object. I honestly am interested in knowing what it was I saw.
 
Q

qso1

Guest
Did you do any follow up observations? It could have been obscured by higher altitude clouds that may not have been easily seen through a window at night. A nova/supernova would be front page news if it were that visible. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
C

CalliArcale

Guest
Novae and supernovae also persist for days or even months, so it's definitely not one of those.<br /><br />From the description, it sounds very much like a bright star obscured by a small cloud. Late at night, it is not always easy to see clouds, although they do usually show up better in the city (where they are underlit by the city itself).<br /><br />How quickly did the object fade? How long was it visible before it faded? It is remotely possible that it was a satellite in an elliptical orbit; such an object may not appear to move much (if at all) if the angle was just right. And don't discount planes too quickly; they appear motionless if they're coming directly at the observer. How long you saw it can rule that out, though. <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>
 
M

mad515

Guest
I don't know how long the object was in the sky. As I said, I just happened to look out my window and it was there, very bright (similar in brightness to Jupiter or Sirius) and twinkling. I watched it for maybe thirty seconds, and it began to dim rapidly while all stars around it remained visible. It was gone in less than thirty seconds. The object did not move in any direction, unless it was moving away from my position at a very high rate of speed. It looked exactly like a star simply going out over a short period of time. I checked the following night (last night, a cloudless sky) and it was not there, but the surrounding stars that I saw the previous night were still there. I seriously doubt it was a satellite due to it's initial brightness. Planes don't go straight out into space. Who knows, maybe I'm just another kook who saw a UFO.
 
C

CalliArcale

Guest
Selecting for "Philadelphia, PA" (which can be slightly inaccurate for things like Iridium flashes), I looked at Heavens Above. There were no satellites visible above magnitude 2.5 (that was a spent rocket stage from a Lacrosse launch; the corresponding satellite passed over your area a few hours later). So that rules out the satellite.<br /><br />I then went to Your Sky to get a skymap for your location at 10:45PM EDT. I found one very bright object very close to Virgo in the south-south-west. If this is the object, then I may be able explain why it looked like Jupiter: it may actually have been Jupiter. (Contrary to popular belief, planets can actually twinkle. It just takes a larger atmospheric distortion to do it to them than it does to do it to a star. This would be consistent with the object's subsequent disappearance; if a dense high-altitude cloud was in the area, it could've caused the twinkling as well.)<br /><br />BTW, although airplanes do not go straight out into space, they certainly can move directly away from you. This is most commonly observed at relatively low altitudes, under 45 degrees up. How high up in the sky was the object? <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>
 
M

markj_87

Guest
Jupiter would be my best guess too. At about that time, from your location, Jupiter would be SSW and shining brightly. <br /><br />I had an experience like this a few weeks ago. The sky seemed to be clear, but Jupiter was fading fast and reappearing some time later every few minutes or so. Obviously it was passing behind clouds, but it looked very odd, especially as the sky appeared mostly clear. I'd guess this might be what you saw.
 
S

sponge

Guest
Ive seen venus do this on occasion<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em><u>SPONGE</u></em></p> </div>
 
M

mad515

Guest
When I saw the object, it was more than 45 degrees up, more like 60 degrees. It definitely was not Jupiter, because when I first saw the object I thought it was Jupiter, but when I looked for Jupiter in it's normal position at that time of night, it was there, quite a distance away in the sky from the object. Jupiter is unmistakable in the sky, very bright and not twinkling on a relatively clear night. Also, the object did not just get obscured by a cloud as a means of disappearance, as it never reappeared and has not been there for the past two evenings.<br /><br />I thank all for their input and trying to help me to identify the object, but I think it's going to remain unknown as to what it actually was. I will continue to check that area of the sky for a while for a reappearance, and update if necessary.
 
H

halcyondays

Guest
If not Jupiter, very possibly an aircraft light from an aircraft heading directly towards you, then either entering cloud or turning. If turning, an aircraft light looks almost as if it's being turned off, as it can die down and then disappear in just a few seconds.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY

Latest posts