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emilyy01

Bright light going across sky?

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Hi,

So I'm fairly new to observing and tonight a big bright light, probably 3 times bigger than the space station, caught my eye. It was travelling from North to South and appeared very bright only for a couple of seconds then went down quickly to a smaller size, like the space station when it is not at its brightest. It got smaller and smaller until I could no longer see it. I just wanted your opinions on what it could have been. A satalite perhaps? I live in North England and I would say it was around 10.15pm...

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That was most likely an Iridium flare. These are low earth orbit satellites with large antennae which reflect the sun. When this reflection is in your direction you see a bright flare as it passes, which lasts around 10 seconds or so.

They are very predictable, you can check on www.heavens-above.com to see when they will occur, or there are numerous phone apps too.

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Whereabouts are you? I just checked for Newcastle (seems northern, I'm a southern softie ;) ). There was a bright one at 10.20pm overhead

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If you have a computer, or similar, and would like to be able to predict when these sorts of satellite-flares can be expected in your location, you can download Previsat off of SourceForge - which also carries many other excellent software-programs. All totally free of charges of any kind.

Here's Previsat:

https://sourceforge.net/projects/previsat/

Just download and read the instructions to enter your location and such.

Enjoy!

Dave

Edited by Dave In Vermont

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I have seen them from here a good few times but always lowish and moving South to North, really quite striking.

Alan

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8 hours ago, Stu said:

That was most likely an Iridium flare. These are low earth orbit satellites with large antennae which reflect the sun. When this reflection is in your direction you see a bright flare as it passes, which lasts around 10 seconds or so.

They are very predictable, you can check on www.heavens-above.com to see when they will occur, or there are numerous phone apps too.

Thanks for the link to heavens-above.com.  I've been aware that such websites exist but never taken a look before. That one seems particularly easy to use. 

I have seen what I supposed are iridium flares before but only unexpectedly when star gazing. 

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Brilliant, thanks everyone! Will take a look on that website. Stu, I'm in County Durham so not far South of Newcastle :)

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1 hour ago, emilyy01 said:

Brilliant, thanks everyone! Will take a look on that website. Stu, I'm in County Durham so not far South of Newcastle :)

Looks like there should be another at around 22.14 tonight, although the exact time and brightness will depend where you are. In Newcastle it is shown as mag -7.6 which is nearly as bright as they ever get. Worth watching for if clear.

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