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Well, they were weird!


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Not sure if anyone else was out at the time and with the same location(s).  While I was out stargazing and peering for any hint of aurora to my N (thru murk and LP); my attention was grabbed by two yellow-ish objects that suddenly appeared low in my NE - in Hercules - they were slightly brighter than Arcturus that was further round to my E.  Got my 10x50s on them, they were steady in brightness/colour; from my perspective were slowly moving S-wards; no indication of any aircraft nav lights and no sound; the 'lead' light seemed to turn E-wards away from me and extinguished, and the 'rear' light did the same a second or so later - again no hint of aircraft nav lights.  My camera was in the middle of noise-reducing/saving an image so I couldn't try to capture these lights..  Without reference I could not give an accurate estimate on true height or distance.
Whole sighting was around 8-10 sec; checked my watch immediately and it was 22:34.  Had my smartphone in pocket so fired up HeavensAbove, but no Iridiums or other matching satellites showing for my location/time.  Logic suggests they were aircraft in circuit somewhere, so wondering if the general atmospheric murk was masking the nav lights?  There has been a lot of military helicopter night flying recently - RAF Benson is to my NE - but they are very obvious by their associated engine/rotor noise.

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Maybe check with Calsky - I do not get on well with setting the location in Calsky but that is for flares which are more exacting. You may find that what you saw was a set of NOSS satellites. They are tethered pairs or triples. Seem to recall the US ones are tethered pairs and the Chinese ones are tethered triples.

Not looked for any, so no real idea of the brightness of them, and it will depend on several factors. One disappearing then the other just means they entered the earths shadow and so no light to reflect off them.

A passage of one of the Chinese triples is usually accompanied by cries of "Aliens!!!"

Looking at Calsky for 22:55 to 23:17 there were 4 sets of US NOSS satellites going over and in view of you. There was 2 sets of them at 23:40 (7 seconds apart).

Edited by ronin
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Thx Ronin and Dave - two very useful apps/tools :)

Both Calsky and Previsat confirmed (as did HeavensAbove once I'd reset my location - doh!) that Iridium 37 did indeed flare in that position of my horizon and sky.  I can accept that the general atmospheric murk that night might have given me an odd-colour for the flare; but still baffled on how I clearly saw two matching 'lights' with both Mk1 eyeball and 10x50 binocs


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