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My First Iridium Flare!

  1. May 24, 2007 #1


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    I just saw my first Iridium flare - and totally by accident. I was setting up my telescope and looking up in the right direction when my eye caught an extremely bright object, high in the east. My first thought was Venus, but no, wrong direction for Venus, and even without a basis for comparison, it was clearly brighter than Venus. After perhaps 5 seconds, it dimmed and then I realized it was moving and therefore must be an Iridum flare.

    Heaven's Above confirms:
    I've also verified that Starry Night doesn't predict flares. It showed the satellite, but not the correct magnitude.

    Anyway, I thought this was interesting as a potential UFO sighting. With my frame-of-mind and familiarity with the sky, my first reaction was Venus and after just a few seconds knew what it was. But for someone else, seeing an extremely bright, moving object and not having any clue what it is - I suspect they are the cause of a lot of UFO sightings.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 24, 2007 #2
    For a while I went out every dusk with a watch and a list of times at which to spot the satellites. The Heavens Above website is pretty good for doing that. I'd recommend it to new people: it's exciting (you see movement), reliable (unlike shooting stars, the forecasts are like clockwork), convenient (occuring in the early evening) and requires no telescope/binoculors.
    Last edited: May 24, 2007
  4. May 24, 2007 #3


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    There's nothing like being in a group of friends, pointing at the sky and summoning a flare to really wow them...
  5. May 24, 2007 #4


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    Yeah, I may try that tomorrow - there's a good chance I'll be playing poker at 11:00 on the grounds of a golf course when another one happens.
  6. May 25, 2007 #5
    Congrats! I have spotted quite a flew flares before, and even photographed one(you can see the pic in the current PF photo contest - that was also a mag. -8). The first flare I saw was actually a daytime. IIRC, it was nearly mag -9 and around sunrise, yet it was bright enough to be seen against a not-so-dark sky. It is exciting every time I wait and watch one. I'd also recommend Orbitron for satellite tracking and pass/flare predictions.

    That's very true! :approve:
  7. Sep 11, 2010 #6


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    Lol, I've thought of that a few times. "I can make a star flare up much brighter than normal with just my mind. It takes a lot of energy on my part so it only lasts a few seconds..." :wink:

    BTW, here's a link to the http://www.heavens-above.com/" [Broken] website mentioned above. It does have excellent forcasts of Iridium Flares and other satellites. I haven't seen the Orbitron site before but, it looks much more detailed.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. Sep 11, 2010 #7


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    Not too bright, and not my first, if anything - first that I found on my HD few minutes ago. But it is in such an easy to recognize place I decided to post it :smile:
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