What is this object?

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newyorker

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On Wednesday 28 Dec '05 I saw an unusual object in the New York sky. It was like a star that was changing colors and shapes in the Southwest sky. It appeared at 5:20pm and moved slowly across the sky for about 40 minutes before disapearing from my view.<br /><br />Someone also saw the same thing the previous night and snapped a photo and video. You can see the video here: http://silhouedit.com/star/originalstar.mov<br /><br />There is a still photo <b>here</b><br /><br />Somebody suggested that it was the International Space Station, but according to the NASA website the ISS was only visible in NY for a few minutes. Any ideas what this could be?
 
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newyorker

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Thanks. Which direction does Venus move in the sky (clockwise or counterclockewise)? Is it always the same direction?
 
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newyorker

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This object was in the sky for about half an hour, so according to what I saw on the NASA site, it wouldn't be the space center.<br /><br />Where can I get information on how Venus appeared during December?
 
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CalliArcale

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Thanks. Which direction does Venus move in the sky (clockwise or counterclockewise)? Is it always the same direction?<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />It rises in the east and sets in the west, just like the sun, moon, stars, and the rest of the planets. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> This is because of the Earth's rotation -- Venus doesn't move fast enough in its orbit to be noticeable to the naked eye from Earth, so you just see it moving with the rest of the sky.<br /><br />The only stuff that doesn't neccesarily move in that direction are satellites and aircraft. These can be seen moving in any direction.<br /><br />You can see Venus move in its orbit if you plot its position against the backdrop of stars night after night. Get a starmap (prefereably black on white; it's easier to write on) and mark Venus' position against the stars on the next clear night. Go out again about the same time a couple nights later and plot it again. It will have moved against the stars. Do this long enough and you'll start to see some rather odd movements -- sometimes it will move to the right, and sometimes to the left. If you watch it long enough, it'll move in a weird looping pattern. The loop is called an <i>epicycle</i> and it puzzled astronomers for thousands of years until they started to realize that Venus wasn't in fact orbiting the Earth but was instead orbiting the Sun. The mathematics for it still didn't really work out until later astronomers made the further conclusion that the Earth also orbited the Sun -- and orbited farther away than Venus did. <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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newyorker

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Thanks for all the responses.<br /><br />This is a link to a one-minute video that a friend of mine in Israel took. It was 8pm on Monday night (this past Monday, Jan 1) outside of Tel Aviv. If you view the movie in a large window you can see a small object in the center that is flashing and hopping around. Actually, it seems like various objects flashing. <br /><br />Any ideas what it (they) could be?
 
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kmarinas86

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http://yiddishkeit.org/images/Modiin_2Teves8pm/HPIM0239.mpg<br /><br />If you have Windows Media Player, go to video settings and increase the brightness to 50%, contrast to 50%, saturation to 100%.<br /><br />Then you will find a background reference on the bottom right.<br /><br />It appears that a Hewlett Packard digital camera was used, because the file name starts with HPIM.
 
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kmarinas86

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I have taken the video, made a second layer and made that second layer 50% transparent. The first layer was cropped for the bright light, and the second layer was cropped for the dim light. I have brightened the video, improved the contrast, and increased the saturation. The result is that the relative motion is easier to see.<br /><br />Orginal Video - http://yiddishkeit.org/images/Modiin_2Teves8pm/HPIM0239.mpg<br /><br />Enhanced viewing version - http://www.filecabi.net/u.php?file=1136315725.wmv<br /><br />The dimmer "light" is probably a messed up pixel in the digital camera.
 
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CalliArcale

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Was your friend's camera fixed (on a tripod, for example) or was it hand-held? There aren't any references in the video, unfortunately, so I can't judge speed, direction, or even magnitude (apparent brightness) at all.<br /><br />I went to a cool website, Heavens Above, and set it to Tel Aviv. Then I asked it for pass predictions for all satellites brighter than 4.5 (which is probably much dimmer than your friend's object) and moved it backwards to Jan 1. I didn't find anything around 8PM, so I'd say that definitively rules out a satellite. Whatever your friend photographed, it was not a spacecraft. The spastic way it flickers has me thinking of some kind of illuminated flying object moving around a lot on a day with a fair amount of atmospheric distortion. A distant helicopter, maybe? Just a random guess.<br /><br />Check out Heavens Above sometime; it's a fantastic resource if you ever want to consciously spot a satellite. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> It lists everything visible, including Iridium flashes, which are pretty spectacular. I use it often when I know there's a nice clear night coming up. One nice feature is that it automatically sets to local time, so you don't have to muck around with GMT.<br /><br />One other thought, although it's pretty unlikely. I used to be really into kite-flying, although I haven't had time to do it since my daughter came along. I've thought about buying a night-flying kit, but never got around to it. It's a set of battery-powered LEDs designed to be mounted to a stunt kite, allowing you to enjoy your hobby even after the sun goes down. (I never felt sufficiently confident to do so; sure, I'd be able to see the kite, but not the trees!) It's remotely possible that it was some hobbyist out at night, although I don't think very many people are THAT seriously into kiting. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> <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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