Strange satellite formation?

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Strange satellite formation?

Postby nozzmoking » Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:50 am

Not strictly an astronomical sighting, but this one got me baffled.

Last Saturday night, (3rd July), my wife and I were sitting outside our motorhome at a campsite just outside Banbury. I'm guessing around 11.30pm to 12.00 midnight approx.

Probably around a half hour or so earlier, we'd spotted the ISS tailing off towards a south-easterly direction. Nothing unusal in that but then I saw 2 points of light coming over the south western horizon, (in a roughly north easterly direction), that quickly brightened in the usual Iridium flare fashion. I quickly pointed them out to my wife, and just as she looked up the pair of 'light's were quickly joined by a 3rd, making a near perfect triangle. A split second later, or so it seemed, all 3 had flared quite brightly however, not as bright as an overhead Iridium usually looks, possibly with them being so low down in the sky.

The 3 then lost their brightness and returned to what looked like 3 ordinary-looking satellites. After travelling only a few degrees, they then disappeared from view. The whole episode took literally a few seconds at most to completion.

Now we've often seen 2 or 3 satellites at the same time, but always in different parts of the sky and never 3 in perfect formation together.

It all happened so quickly but at a guess, I would say the 'triangle' was slightly larger than my thumb held at arms length.

Can anyone tell me if this is a usual occurrence, and do some satellites actually orbit in formation such as this?

Cheers

Noz









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RE: Strange satellite formation?

Postby brianb » Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:56 am

[quote]do some satellites actually orbit in formation such as this?
[/quote]
Yes.
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RE: Strange satellite formation?

Postby joselouviere » Tue Jul 06, 2010 11:36 pm

There was an article in the recent mag about a set of 4 satelites in a pyramid configuration analysing the aurorae. You may have seen these - the 4th is the top of the pyramid 1000km above the other 3 so may not be visible.
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RE: Strange satellite formation?

Postby nozzmoking » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:26 am

Thanks guys.

It's always a bit of a shock seeing the unexpected.

Cheers

Noz
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RE: Strange satellite formation?

Postby thebest » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:53 am

how weird? i just posted something similar on the general forum..perhaps i shld have done it here..just happened to me today...satellites eh? military?
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RE: Strange satellite formation?

Postby nozzmoking » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:13 am

[quote]how weird? i just posted something similar on the general forum..perhaps i shld have done it here..just happened to me today...satellites eh? military?[/quote]

How many did you see, 3 or 4?

I thought my eyes were playing tricks! Glad someone else has spotted them.

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RE: Strange satellite formation?

Postby thebest » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:10 pm

yeah i saw 3..perfect triangle...i wonder if we're lucky to have seen these. i was well chuffed..
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