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Weird bright flashes near Saturn last night


Porl
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Hi everyone,

I thought I would ask a quick question to see if anyone else saw what i saw last night. I was out at my car around 10:30pm last night and stopped to look up at saturn. Just spot it with the naked eye in the sky because it was clear (typically i was indoors all night and couldnt get the scope out).

Out of the corner of my eye to the left of saturn, about an inch in the sky i would say I saw a very bright flash. I thought 'what was that?!' and turned to look in that direction but another flash didnt come for what seemed like another 20-30 seconds. And when it flashed it had moved to the left a bit more.

I thought it could be a plane but it was completely gone until it flashed, no travelling red lights etc. It flashed another 2 times but was really diminished, and the last one was barely noticable and then it had gone.

I've looked on stellarium to see if any of the satelittes it tracks went in the area of the sky i was looking but it doesnt show anything.

Does anyone know what it could have been? I seem to have the word 'tumbler' in my head from somewhere. Could it be something in orbit, space junk or something thats slowly tumbling/rolling that reflected the sun each spin?

Im not thinking its a ufo or anything by the way :icon_eek: Im just curious if I saw anything cool without really looking.

Thanks and sorry for rambling

Porl''

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That's interesting - I was watching Saturn last night - thought I saw something to the right - would have been approx 10:00ish

Put it down to my eyesight.

But didn't see it again ......

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Ive been trying to see if the heavens above site says what it was but im not coming up with much, but i am a little confused with the site haha.

Im glad I wasnt the only one seeing something. I thought it might have been my vision until i saw the second flash. Few, im not going mad :icon_eek:

Paul''

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That's interesting - I was watching Saturn last night - thought I saw something to the right - would have been approx 10:00ish

But didn't see it again ......

Me too, a single flash of light to the right of Saturn.

I'm not entirely sure what time, but I was out at that time last night.

Curioser and curioser... :icon_eek:

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I have seen a tumbler before and it wasn't quite like your description Porl. However, the rate of rotation probably varies so it's still possible! I doubt it would be an iridium flare as the "flashes" from these tend to come & go only once per orbit.

One - slightly more terrestrial - possibility is a distant helicopter. As the searchlights move around they can appear to brightly flash then disappear.

However, if you saw it too Tantalus then I guess something satellite related is more likely!

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i also witnessed this though not just the once but over several nights this week in and around that area of the sky, it flashes and then i can make out a very faint star like object moving and then it flashes again. it doesnt seem to resemble any iridium flares i have seen in the past. I would be very intrested to know what this could be as im utterly stumped.

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That would be ace if it is the Nano-Sail we saw. I wasnt too sure wether we could see it in the UK and i heard that it was small. If we can some how comfirm it was that it would be great :D

Porl''

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Porl... have another go with the heavens above site...

once i'd got my location sorted out on it i found lots of things to look at.

If you know your alts from your az's the charts make good sense, then its just a question of timing.

The Nanosail-D data is available, and using the for/back functions you can check old sighting dates as well.

I find its quite fun to look up Iridium flares and ISS stuff if i'm going to meet my mates for a drink - they think its amazing when you say 'look over there, see that dot moving this way - ISS'

I've had the whole pub standing on the pavement staring at the sky!! :):hello2:

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I don't think it was the Nanosail - not at that time. The Nanosail's visibility is roughly similar to that of the ISS. It's first pass would've been after midnight on that date.

I've also seen many satellite flares, and rotating satellites on a few occasions over the past few years, and they tend to 'rise and fall' in brightness rather than an instantaneous flash like the one I witnessed on the 6th. I think it's most likely cause was a piece of space debris that suddenly caught the sun.

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  • 3 months later...

I just joined this site just to talk to you about this... I live in Edmonton, AB. I just saw the same thing by Saturn about 1.5hours ago with my brother and his girlfriend. It was about as high as a satellite, but had a big flash on it, and would go dark after the flash. It was way to high to be a plane, it didn't have any other lights on it or solid lights. It moved from South to North. Every 10-20 seconds a bright flash would emit from it. My brother and his girlfriend went in the house and I laid in a lawn chair and watched it for about an hour afterward. It was moving South to North like I said...but the it stopped in the sky and stayed around the same area. It then started heading back South. Since when do satellites change direction and emit big flashes? Today is Aug 9,2011.

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