unusual sight in the night sky.

May 11, 2024
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Hi all. I am very new to this, so sorry if I am not following protocol. I am searching for anyone who saw what I saw on Wed night (5-8-24) at 11:00 Eastern time,
due south of Spica about 4 or 5 degrees. I was observing the "twin quasars" in Ursa Major and happened to turn around and look to the south. I saw a glowing ball
of light about the size of a full moon, or maybe a bit larger south of Spica. I scrapped my observing plans and turned my 18 inch dob toward this glowing ball. (It reminds me
of a naked - eye comet w/o a tail) I knew no bright comets were supposed to be in the sky.
Through the scope (31mm e.p.) I was amazed to see two bright "stars" surrounded by this glowing gas. One of the bright points were releasing this cloud of gas, while the other 'star'
was about 10 or so arc minutes away and not releasing any gas that I could see. Both moving very fast by the background stars. These moved much faster than any asteroid or comet, but much slower than any satellite. Travelling NE, they were crossing a line drawn from 109 virgo to tau virgo at 11:42 pm., and heading approximately toward Corona Borealis. They were separating slowly, and the cloud was dissipating but still visable. I was observing from NE lower peninsula of Michigan near West Branch.
Lots of folks must have seen this ball of light. Thanks for any feedback.
Jon Mayer Rose City Mi.
 
May 11, 2024
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Sounds like an aircraft.
I think that it must be man-made. I thought possibly a rocket staging. whatever it was it was venting quite a lot of (fuel?) It took 40 minutes to go from southern Virgo to NE Virgo, which is very slow for an aircraft. Plus no red/green flashing lights. No sound. Plus the vented gas cloud went along with the two "stars". It would have remained behind if in the atmosphere.
 
May 11, 2024
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Distance, angle, atmospheric conditions, etc are variables here. Most likely an aircraft. Could have been a launch, in theory, but from where?
An aircraft would be the most reasonable possibility. The only thing that seems quite hard to explain is why the glowing cloud continued to fly 'in formation' with the two bright objects, a few dozen degrees across the sky, rather than remain behind. I am hoping that someone may have seen this event.
I appreciate your response to this, and you probably are correct.
 
May 11, 2024
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Other than hearing of Reddit, I don't have any experience with social sites. In fact, this is my first foray into online discussions. Basic physics requires that this phenomena must have been in the vacuum of space, because the circular cloud of material remained centered on the two objects as they sped by the b ack ground stars. I watched them travel at least 20 degrees across the sky. The cloud remained centered on them the whole way.
The atmosphere would have slowed and disrupted the cloud. Ask any skydiver. As soon as he leaves the airplane
he not only falls vertically but immediately slows in the horizontal, due to atmospheric drag, and the plane leaves him far behind.
With so many nations launching rockets almost daily, as well as private companies doing the same, it wouldn't be unusual to witness some sort of venting of fuel.
My second search was in an astronomical chat room known as Cloudy Nights. There, another person described seeing this same event. He saw it from northern PA, while I saw it from NE Michigan. We both described the star Spica just north of the cloud. The geometry of our two locations also demonstrates that this event was much further away. I don't know if we could ever pin down what rocket was involved, but other subsequent replies on Cloudy Nights agree that it was some sort of venting outside of the atmosphere. I still wonder why there were two objects flying next to each other.