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Stargazing Cloud of moving stars

  1. Feb 19, 2015 #1
    I just saw an astronomy phenomenon with the following description:

    a) It was like a "cloud of stars" containing approximately 1.000 shiny objects
    b) It moved relatively fast (I compare the speed across the sky to the movement of an airplane that is so far away that you can hardly see it -at night of course-)
    c) The general shape of the cloud changed slowly as it moved

    At the beginning I thought it was just like a group of birds or something ordinary like that... but suddenly I realized that it was moving in the sky just across the position of Jupiter, and that when it really got my full attention and curiosity. I looked at it as long as I could before it moved to a region in the sky where my vision was covered by buildings.

    It also caught my attention because it was partially clouded... I could see Jupiter clearly, but not many stars... It also caught my attention because as it was passing over Jupiter, some of the points kind of looked like Jupiter’s moons to me... That's when I ran to my room to look for my binoculars (I have the Celestron SkyMarter 20x80) but by the time I came back to the yard the "cloud" had moved away from Jupiter and I could not check if it was the moons or not (I thought it could be some kind of lensing effect on the atmosphere due to hot gas or something like that, so trying to look at Jupiter moons would help me confirm my theory).

    Nevertheless I looked to the "cloud" through my binoculars and I identified two more characteristics:
    d) All the shiny objects had roughly about the same brightness and the same color white/very clear blue
    e) They all twinkled with the same frequency, about two or three times per second but not all together, more like random

    -IT WAS OBVIOUSLY NOT A GROUP OF BIRDS-

    I came home to look on the internet the explanation of this phenomenon but couldn't find anything serious with the same description. I actually found one post about other two people asking about a similar phenomenon and something that really caught my attention is that the other two people that apparently saw something similar were both in Portugal, which happens to be the same country where I live. They witnessed whatever they saw three years ago and both from the south of Portugal while I live (and saw it) on the north. Here is a link to that post if you are interested in their description:

    https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120715115559AAqiVvp


    I saw this phenomenon today February 20th at approximately 00:12.

    I also found a comment on a similar thread about a lensing effect caused by liquids on the outer atmosphere or something like that which sounded more realistic to me but the information was very short and poor. All the other information that I found online was pretty crappy and not serious talking about UFOs and other things that I do not take seriously.

    The only reason I'm posting this here is because I respect this forum and the people who participate here and I have learned many things with your help, and as an amateur astronomer and a lover of physics I could not think of a better place to ask about the experience I just had. Hopefully this thread is not breaking the rules of the forum and some of the members here can give me a good feedback.

    Thanks and best regards,
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2015 #2

    davenn

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    how did you come by that number? did you count them ??
     
  4. Feb 20, 2015 #3
    No. Impossible to count, that number is just an estimation..
     
  5. Feb 20, 2015 #4

    russ_watters

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    You say it was obviously not birds, but what you describe sounds a lot like birds to me -- so what about it made you think it wasn't birds after first thinking it was?
     
  6. Feb 20, 2015 #5
    I thought it was birds at first when I just glanced because of the random movement, but then when I looked better I saw that there were shinning objects, especially when I used my binoculars to see them better. I don’t see how a group of birds could shine in that way. It was midnight, so I don’t think birds could be visible like that. There is also something about the dimension of the cloud and the size of the individual objects that doesn’t seemed to me like the correct ratio for a group of birds. Moreover, assuming that they were in fact birds that shinned that way because they were somehow reflecting light coming from below, one would expect the twinkle to be related to the movement of the wings, which in this case also didn’t seem quite right because the frequency was very high, about two or three times per second, which seems very fast for the movement of bird wings, even more if they were big enough for me to be able to see them at great distance…
    I live next to the D’Ouro river in Vila Nova de Gaia, and I am used to see a lot of seagulls fly in groups all the time around my house and maybe that’s why at first glance I thought it where birds. However, I have always been able to identify seagulls easily when they fly in groups, and even identify single individuals. In this case it was nothing like that at all..
     
  7. Feb 20, 2015 #6

    russ_watters

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    Google "wing beat frequency". 2-3 hz is relatively LOW for a bird in cruise and consistent with large birds. For example, one link I found says a wandering albatross, with a wingspan of 3m and mass of 8.5 kg has a beat frequency of 2.5 hz.
     
  8. Feb 20, 2015 #7
    Yes, actually just after I posted my answer to you about the frequency I googled it..
    Well I guess then it is plausible that it was not an astronomy phenomenon but instead just a bunch of birds. That makes me a little sad, thou… But if nothing else makes sense then I’ll have to get used to that idea, even if it certainly didn’t look like birds and still have the shinning issue kind of open in my head.. If it was birds, they were very star like shinny, very bright points. I hope I have the chance to see something like that again...

    Thanks for the support!
     
  9. Sep 12, 2015 #8
    We just the same kind of moving star cloud tonight around 23H in Lisboa! Have never heard or seen anything like it! It moved away within 2-3 minutes!
     
  10. Sep 13, 2015 #9

    Chronos

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    Apparently it was moving way too fast to be astronomical. The bird theory, however, sounds plausible. Could also be an aircraft or cell phone tower reflection combined with atmospheric effects.
     
  11. Aug 6, 2016 #10
    I saw it last year and saw it again today! Both times in Matosinhos , Porto (Portugal). Definatly doesn't look like birds.
     
  12. Aug 6, 2016 #11

    Fervent Freyja

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    Maybe not, but it certainly isn't stars moving around in the night sky...
     
  13. Aug 7, 2016 #12
    I know it isn't , it's just weird!
     
  14. Aug 7, 2016 #13

    Fervent Freyja

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  15. Aug 8, 2016 #14

    davenn

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  16. Aug 8, 2016 #15

    Bystander

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    What was the phase of the moon?
     
  17. Aug 8, 2016 #16

    Dotini

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    On February 20, 2016, the moon was waxing gibbous, 95% visible, age 19 days.
     
  18. Aug 8, 2016 #17

    Dotini

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    • th?id=OIP.M5d83d61ddf6f1d97d4cd7593f0d2dbedH0&pid=15.1&P=0&w=232&h=175.jpg
    Did it look like this?
     
  19. Aug 8, 2016 #18

    Fervent Freyja

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    mns19 said he saw something Saturday.

    Why so nice Dave? :biggrin:
     
  20. Aug 8, 2016 #19
    If it's moving noticeably compared to background stars (or even planets), then it has to be something in Earth's atmosphere.
    Maybe a small soft meteor that disintegrated quickly?, even a re-entering bit of human made space debris might explain it.
     
  21. Aug 9, 2016 #20

    Chronos

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    A meteor would apparently be much faster than the observed effect. Even a bolide is rarely visible for more than a few seconds. That suggests more pedestrian explanations - like birds, aircraft or atmospheric phenomenon.
     
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