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Iridium Flares - who has seen one?

Iridium Flares - who has seen one?

Author
Discussion

torqueofthedevil

Original Poster:

1,640 posts

74 months

Monday 17th September 2012
quotequote all
Got all the times off heavens-above and had a look today but a little cloud in the sky.

Magnitude was -8 I think so how bright would that have been? There is another tomorrow which I think is -6 - is this going to be quite clear?

Having youtubed one they can be unbelievably clear but I guess that was a perfect on and a magnitude of -0.

If you are wondering what one is then google it but basically they are satellites which reflect light back to earth as they spin

cptsideways

11,171 posts

149 months

Monday 17th September 2012
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Yep, seen quite a few, some are cleary obvious others not so. I use ISS detector app on Anroid and it pings you when they are due, some are due tonight I think.

rxtx

5,056 posts

107 months

Monday 17th September 2012
quotequote all
Did you mean -9 rather than -0? With magnitude the lower the number the brighter it is. A full moon is magnitude -12.6 and the faintest star the eye can see is around +6. -8/-6 will easily be visible but Iridium flares are directed, so the further out of the focus point you are, the dimmer it will be.

central

16,712 posts

114 months

Monday 17th September 2012
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yes

TackleburyUk

472 posts

87 months

Tuesday 18th September 2012
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There is also a good iphone / Ipad app for them.

Waited around for three so far and not seen a thing....

Feck.

speedtwelve

3,095 posts

170 months

Wednesday 19th September 2012
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I've seen a few. First time was at 41000ft over the North Sea one winter night when I used to co-pilot a corporate jet. We had the cockpit lights turned down to give a better view of the stars when I saw what looked like a very bright landing light grow and fade over a few seconds. Problem was, we were already at Flight Level Nosebleed and whatever it was was seemed to be directly above... I now know it was an Iridium Flare (I also saw a tumbling polar-orbit satellite/spent booster on that trip).

Heavens Above website works very well if you double-check the times (i.e. not confusing local with GMT) and use your iPhone or whatever to check the predicted bearing and have an idea of what the elevation should look like. As long as the predicted flare is of a decent magnitude you should see it. If you are close to the centre of the reflected ground track they can be astonishingly bright for a few seconds. I've even seen a particularly bright one in broad daylight.

The Black Flash

6,581 posts

95 months

Wednesday 19th September 2012
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Seen several while stargazing, they're quite distinctive.

Grumpy old git

247 posts

84 months

Friday 21st September 2012
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I think this may be what I just saw in the night sky over Bristol?

It was low in the sky heading across the horizon in a southerly direction and was visible for at least 5 seconds. It looked like a firework but obviously wasn't, for second I thought it might be a plane on fire it was so bright, it faded out for a second and then reappeared.

Simpo Two

63,040 posts

162 months

Saturday 22nd September 2012
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Aha: www.heavens-above.com/iridiumhelp.asp

Not iridium burning then!

jmorgan

23,044 posts

181 months

Saturday 22nd September 2012
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Caught a few waiting for the ISS. So I start looking out for them now when ISS spotting.

torqueofthedevil

Original Poster:

1,640 posts

74 months

Saturday 22nd September 2012
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Is the iss as impressive? It's a massive coincidence just randomly spotting an iridium flare they are very rare really

jmorgan

23,044 posts

181 months

Saturday 22nd September 2012
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I think that catching the ISS, the shadow of the earth plays the same at a similar time with iridium? I go back and check with Starry Night and it shows several Iridium passing. Not always and not more than a few.

Thread on the ISS on here on PH.

MikeGTi

1,651 posts

98 months

Wednesday 3rd October 2012
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I've seen a fair few, as well as the ISS. It helps to have a good dark site to observe the sky from.