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Nova/Supernova seen on Dec 26?

  1. Dec 26, 2009 #1
    Hi all,
    I’m an amateur astrophotographer, and while I was I was shooting frames just this morning (approx 5.50GMT, Dec 26), something very peculiar was seen.Two non-existent bright sources (approx 4 or 5° apart) were popping up around next to Regulus, and peaked in brightness almost immediately.
    They remained like this for around 30 seconds, after which one of the sources dimmed nearly instantaneous, whereas the other dimmed over the next 10 seconds to almost invisible with the naked eye. I was too slow to send my telescope in the right direction, but have managed to shoot some follow up frames thereafter, which I am processing now.
    The brightness of the objects was around -1, and they were non-moving. As such, this would rule out planes/satellites.
    What could this have been? Have there been any other reports?

    Kind regards,
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 26, 2009 #2


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    Here is a site that you can send your report to.

    http://www.supernovae.net/snimages/vsnet.html" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Dec 26, 2009 #3


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    Does this description sound familiar? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipe...April_3#an_extra_star_in_the_big_dipper.3F.21

    They're not supernovae/novae if they disappeared in 30 seconds, because supernovae/novae take weeks to brighten and fade out. One possibility is a high-orbiting, slowly rotating satellite. It could be orbiting so slowly that you didn't notice movement, and rotating slowly enough that you saw glare from the Sun for 30 seconds.
  5. Dec 26, 2009 #4
    I'll add that it's incredibly improbable for two stars separated by 5° (which, in all likelihood, means they are light years from each other) to go nova simultaneously from our point of view.

    They were probably satellites. Your observations rule out two of the most common types: they were moving too slow for satellites in low earth orbit, and they were in the wrong place in the sky for satellites in the geostationary orbit. They could've been GPS satellites.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2009
  6. Jan 13, 2010 #5


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    What you described sounds like a flare from an Iridium satellite. This web site http://www.heavens-above.com" [Broken] gives 7 day predictions based on your location. Iridium flares can be as bright as -9. The first few times that you see one, it looks like they aren't moving. With a little practice, you can see the movement. Also, the brighter ones last longer and you can see their movement better.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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