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Astronomy help needed
Imnidiot

Posted on 01/15/2012 6:46:37 PM PST by Imnidiot

I need some astronomy help from the smart-guy Freepers. Short version: What can cause a satellite to suddenly glow brightly (as bright as a meteor) for a few seconds and then gradually fade? We saw it last summer on three satellites, one after another, with all 3 visible at the same time (after fading). Different areas of the sky and two different directions of travel! My first thoughts were of rotating satellites reflecting sunlight, but that didn't make sense: First time in 40 years of skywatching and I see 3 at once?? Another unlikely scenario: 3 satellites getting slagged by laser. Too goofy. I want to understand what I saw...please help! Note to Posting Police: This is my first post, so please be gentle.


TOPICS: Astronomy; Science; Weird Stuff
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 01/15/2012 6:46:43 PM PST by Imnidiot
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To: Imnidiot
reflective surface shining the sun back to you. Probably shortly after sunset? Iridium flares probably.

http://www.heavens-above.com/iridiumhelp.asp
2 posted on 01/15/2012 6:51:35 PM PST by sigSEGV
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To: Imnidiot
Only thing I can think of is that the sats were moving out of the shadow of the earth, and moving into sunlight.

Well, and aliens, of course.

I'm just a cook. So anything I say about sats is worth what it cost you.

/johnny

3 posted on 01/15/2012 6:52:09 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Imnidiot

Without a doubt it comes from the satellite(s) reflecting the sun


4 posted on 01/15/2012 6:53:30 PM PST by Helotes
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To: Imnidiot
Look up Iridium satellite flares.

Quite common, and almost as common, photographed, both
intentionally, and unintentionally, not to mention, unwanted.

5 posted on 01/15/2012 6:56:53 PM PST by Calvin Locke
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To: Imnidiot

The last thing you need to think about are satellites.

You need to start thinking about a new FR name.


6 posted on 01/15/2012 6:58:10 PM PST by TomServo
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To: sigSEGV
Probably shortly after sunset?

I had thought of that. I'll bet that given the exact time of the observation, lat/long, and direction of the observations some astro kind of guy would be able to id the sats individually.

/johnny

7 posted on 01/15/2012 6:58:20 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Imnidiot

#2 is correct. Satellites often have large, flat solar panels. Although they’re supposed to *absorb* sunlight and turn it into electricity, they are still shiny like glass, so the panels look like a big, if a bit dark, mirror. As the satellite flies overhead, the reflections from those mirrors might sweep over the ground. If you’re in the path, the satellite will look like it suddenly gets A LOT brighter. But then as the satellite either moves from over you, or rotates to put the reflections elsewhere, it fades again. The Iridium satellites have especially large panels and result in especially bright “flares” which can be considerably brighter than Venus and easily visible in broad daylight. Since the orientation of all those satellites is very well known, the flares are even predictable to the second, where they will appear in the sky and how bright they will be (for the Iridium satellites, not necessarily for the others). Type in your location and Heavens Above can predict the next few flares for you, and you can see just what they look like - and if that’s what you saw before that makes you ask here what it was.


8 posted on 01/15/2012 6:58:41 PM PST by coloradan (The US has become a banana republic, except without the bananas - or the republic.)
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To: Imnidiot

I’ve seen that ...though not three at a time.
Your first thoughts...re sun light glint are correct. As a matter of fact there are web sites that will tell you , given your lat/long where and at what time to see an event !. A German site (I don’t have the web address at hand, lists this kind of data for Iridium birds for example.
A few years ago I amazed neighbors by pointing as to where to look and gave the time count down. I was the adult Mr. Wizard to the kids ;-)


9 posted on 01/15/2012 6:59:37 PM PST by InkYouBuss_007 (This one is escaping the Cuckoo's nest)
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To: Imnidiot

If you know they were satellites, then the answer is probably a satellite flare. Iridium satellite flares can be very bright, three or four magnitues brighter than Venus. Very often they’re mistaken for UFOs. Seeing three of them closely together would be rare of course, but not impossible.


10 posted on 01/15/2012 7:01:59 PM PST by Telepathic Intruder (The right thing is not always the popular thing)
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To: Imnidiot
The last thing you need to think about are satellites.

You need to start thinking about a new FR name.

I'll second that. You're obviously not.

11 posted on 01/15/2012 7:04:29 PM PST by CrazyIvan (Obama's birth certificate was found stapled to Soros's receipt.)
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To: Imnidiot
Welcome to FR. You should have posted this in "breaking news," preferably in all caps and bolded. Otherwise you did just fine.

And I note you got your query answered promptly.

12 posted on 01/15/2012 7:04:36 PM PST by Dysart (#Changeitback)
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To: Dysart; Imnidiot

Please note that Imnidiot has been around since 2000. I anxiously await his next thread in 2024! Unless the three motherships he saw have eliminated us all by then.


13 posted on 01/15/2012 7:13:00 PM PST by 21twelve
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To: coloradan

I have seen some really bright Iridium flares. They can be considerably brighter than Venus and can be shocking if you catch one out of the corner of your eye.


14 posted on 01/15/2012 7:17:10 PM PST by The Antiyuppie ("When small men cast long shadows, then it is very late in the day.")
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To: sigSEGV; JRandomFreeper; Helotes; Calvin Locke; coloradan; InkYouBuss_007; Telepathic Intruder

Thanks for the info and link. I couldn’t get that site to predict sightings from last summer. Dang. At least I have a plausible explanation. Still don’t understand how I’ve never seen one before and wham, three in a minute! Weird. I appreciate all the help!


15 posted on 01/15/2012 7:21:09 PM PST by Imnidiot (THIS SPACE FOR RENT)
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To: 21twelve

Hey, he’s pacing himself!


16 posted on 01/15/2012 7:23:06 PM PST by Dysart (#Changeitback)
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To: coloradan
Coloradan answered your question...

But my question for you is why are you lying? This is most definitely not your 'first post' - as a simple search easily indicates.

Such activity is a red-flag to the 'posting police' - case you didn't realize that.

17 posted on 01/15/2012 7:27:07 PM PST by Ron C.
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To: 21twelve

Are you saying Imnidiot is synonymous with Louis Farrakhan? Ahhhh...it’s all becoming clearer now.


18 posted on 01/15/2012 7:27:14 PM PST by Blogger
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To: Imnidiot
Click THIS LINK - then read post 17. Then hope freepers at-large don't find out more about you... they won't be 'gentle.'
19 posted on 01/15/2012 7:33:39 PM PST by Ron C.
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To: Ron C.; Imnidiot; All

Imnidiot, could you possibly have meant your first VANITY post?

And yeah look up Iridium flares, though lots of other birds flare too. Sometimes in your Schmitt-Cassegrain when you are photographing the Cone Nebula.


20 posted on 01/15/2012 7:50:55 PM PST by DBrow
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To: Imnidiot
Sounds like "glint." There are a number of missions flying in close "swarms," as well.

Saw one close to midnight, the night before last, which took me aback for a moment. Most satellites are visible, naturally, before sunrise or after sunset when the Sun is still shinning brightly far overhead. Midnight seemed odd to see one in polar orbit, heading south, so close to midnight. Then I remembered the angle of the Sun, spilling over the pole. Even so, this particular spacecraft must have been in high orbit.

21 posted on 01/15/2012 7:59:12 PM PST by Prospero
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To: Imnidiot
What can cause a satellite to suddenly glow brightly (as bright as a meteor) for a few seconds and then gradually fade?

Lucky you...it beamed up a Ron Paul supporter instead.

22 posted on 01/15/2012 8:01:29 PM PST by spokeshave (Ron Paul finally lit a match after dousing himself with gasoline)
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To: Ron C.

I’ve “replied” to dozens of other peoples “Posted” subjects...this is the first time I’ve ever Posted anything. I didn’t realize a Post is the same as a Reply. Forgive me...please don’t sic the police on me!


23 posted on 01/15/2012 8:25:22 PM PST by Imnidiot (THIS SPACE FOR RENT)
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To: Imnidiot

I’ve seen satellites brighten up for a few seconds and then fade to pale white. I attribute it mainly to sunlight but does anyone know if the moon casts enough light to brighten a satellite?

Farrakhan supporters and RuPaul (er Ron) Paul supporters will claim it is the work of the “mother ship.” I actually heard Calypso Louie talk about his visit to it.

My response to his claim contained the word “mother” but I don’t recall the other one being “ship”. Might have sounded a little like it, though.


24 posted on 01/15/2012 9:00:43 PM PST by MadMax, the Grinning Reaper
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To: Imnidiot

Usually, it’s sunlight reflecting off spacecraft/satellites as movement/angles change and can cause reflection of intermittent light or steady light while illuminated by the sun.

When ya see it fade, the object is generally moving into the earths shadow, where sunlight cannot be reflected off the satellites surface. Simply, the object passes into the earths shadow being cast from the sun.


25 posted on 01/15/2012 9:23:02 PM PST by dragnet2 (Diversion and evasion are tools of deceit)
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To: MadMax, the Grinning Reaper
I’ve seen satellites brighten up for a few seconds and then fade to pale white. I attribute it mainly to sunlight but does anyone know if the moon casts enough light to brighten a satellite?

I believe so, at the right angles, but in very dark skies.

The Planet Venus, during certain conditions and cast shadows on earth.

Lights on earth can illuminate the bottom of clouds making them appear lit.

BTW, many times, I can often see the Planet Jupiter in broad daylight.

26 posted on 01/15/2012 9:27:35 PM PST by dragnet2 (Diversion and evasion are tools of deceit)
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To: MadMax, the Grinning Reaper
I met> The Planet Venus, during certain conditions can cast shadows on earth.
27 posted on 01/15/2012 9:37:18 PM PST by dragnet2 (Diversion and evasion are tools of deceit)
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