Re: bright flash - Iridium flare?

From: Gavin Eadie (
Date: Tue Aug 17 2010 - 16:48:21 UTC

  • Next message: Paul Grace: "RE: Bright flash - Iridium flare?"

    Not a direct reply to this message, but on August 12th I observed Iridium 31 flare from near Alpena, Michigan (45.1190N, 83.3210W).  It's been some time since I had the chance to observe a clear sky and I had taken friends out to see the flare.  I believe it was about one minute late from the heavens-above time (is that likely?), because we had started to turn away when it flared.  It was predicted at -5 magnitude and it was bright enough to get a few, "oohs!" from us all.
    A few minutes later, in the same area of the sky, there was another "flare" but this one was very bright, just like David's, more of a "Holy Smokes!" event!  It lasted no more than two seconds, and did not move while flaring.  It was close enough to Perseus, that I believe it was a Perseid meteor seen 'head-on' -- we saw a few dozen other meteors while we were watching over the next half hour.  But I'm a little uncomfortable with the Perseid explanation because (a) what are the odds of a head-on sighting and (b) it seemed a lot brighter than other meteors (though I suppose a head-on viewing would be brighter than one seen moving across the sky).
    I was still seeing a few remnant Perseids on the 14th and wonder if David saw another head-on meteor, even though Perseus wouldn't be overhead at 10pm?
    PS: I'll note in passing my surprise at the number of satellites I saw those evenings, not only visible ones (which I wouldn't normally see in the light polluted conditions I live in), but also telescope objects.  I was taking advantage of the clear skies to find Neptune and Uranus in the East and, I exaggerate somewhat, it seemed every other star field in my 90mm refractor had a faint moving object!
    > On Aug 17, 2010, at 11:31 AM, Dave Leighton wrote:
    > I was camped in the backcountry in the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe on August 14, 2010. Around 10:00 pm PST directly overhead there was a very bright flash that lasted 2-3 seconds. It was so bright that my son saw the ground light up from inside his tent. I was looking directly at it when it occurred and there was no sign of any object in that location prior to or after the flash (no moving satellite, no smoke, debris, trail, etc.).
    > We spoke to another backpacker the next morning who saw the flash and he assumed it was an Iridium flare. Could this have been an Iridium flare? Any other ideas? I've seen satellite flares, but never anything close to this magnitude.
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