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Did I see a satellite?


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Hi all,

I was doing a very quick bit of astronomy shortly ago, and just as I was packing up, I saw a very bright object appear on the North-West horizon and move upwards gaining speed, go straight over the 'top' of the sky and then slowed down and disappeared around the South-East horizon.

The time was 00.15 today (just about half an hour ago), and it took 1-2 minutes from its appearance to it's disappearance.

I've checked the ISS tracker for Canterbury (where I am), but it says the ISS is only due around 03.30 tonight.

I turned the scope on it, but as usual, they move so fast it was difficult to get a good enough view.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't merely a plane, as it moved in a very similar way to how the ISS moves (which I've been lucky enough to see a couple of times) ... but of course I could be wrong.

Can anyone help me understand what it was I may have seen?

Thank you all!!


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If they are doing a high pass, they can 'appear' to gain speed as the 'climb' and lose speed as the 'descend', this is just an illusion due to the angle that they are approaching/receeding at.

Last year I had several high ISS passes that I could watch from horizon to horizon, as it approached I had the feeling that I was watching an old WWII bomber doing a low run, it seemed to take ages to arrive, then, as it grew brighter, it also appeared to climb higher and higher and higher, taking on the appearance of a freshly launched rocket, before falling away to the east, appearing to slow down...

Edited by yeti monster
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Yeah sorry I meant 'appeared' to gain speed. I know that the speed appears to change as it initially rises and then at the last part of the descent, that was what I was getting at, but thanks for clarifying.

Any other takers for an opinion?

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