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Exploding Star?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:36 am
by astrella
This may be a really silly question but here goes...
Walking the dog at 06:05 this morning 31 Jan, looking west and almost directly overhead (near Welshpool, Powys). Saw the brightest thing I've ever seen in the sky then it faded to nothing in around 10 seconds. Bright white light. No trail; just in situ. Exploding star or something much more normal that I just haven't seen before?

RE: Exploding Star?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:46 am
by brianb
Very likely a "flare" caused by sunlight reflecting off the large solar panels of a low earth orbiting satellite, probably one of the Iridium series. If you go to a good satellite prediction site (try Heavens Above or Calsky) and put in your geographical location (you'll have to get within 100 metres for the predictions to be very accurate) you might even be able to identify the "offending" satellite.


RE: Exploding Star?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:33 pm
by uea74
Iridium 61 at 6:06AM on 31st gave a flare that matches pretty good with your description and location.

The satallite was due West of you, so I suspect that that was the one you saw.

RE: Exploding Star?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:56 pm
by astrella
Very many thanks for your response. That is really interesting and completely new to me. I feel very privileged to have seen the 'flare'.

RE: Exploding Star?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:56 pm
by astrella
Brilliant. To be able to specifically pinpoint which satellite is quite humbling! I'll hopefully be able to get to grips with the satellite tracking websites in future. Many thanks.

RE: Exploding Star?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:53 pm
by uea74
Thank the people that produced heavens-above and having the foresight to include the means of looking up flares that occurred in the previous 24 hours. Most sites simply consider now and the future.

Otherwise we could only say that it probably was an iridium flare but couldn't identify it with greater certainty then "probably", and certainly couldn't say which.

RE: Exploding Star?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:23 pm
by keithmorris
I saw something like this a couple of years ago but it wasn't overly bright. I was outside watching meteors when I saw a point of light suddenly flare then go out suddenly with no dimming at all. After a bit of research I dismissed aircraft and iridium satellites, which left me with only one conclusion. Since it happened during a known meteor maxima it could only have been one of those rare occassions when you might be lucky enough to see a meteor coming straight at you. Hence no trail.

In all my years of observing and photographing I cannot recall seeing one before. Now I look for them all the time!


Keith