RE: Bright flash - Iridium flare?

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Wed Aug 18 2010 - 00:26:58 UTC

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    My (likely) final follow-up.
    Dave's coordinates were: 38.8604 N, 120.1336 west.
    A subscriber pointed out off-list that Dave reported the time as PST, not PDT as I misread it, so I
    followed up with Dave, and he advised that he meant PDT.
    Mike McCants advises that he has only seen long flares from MetOp A - spanning a minute or so - not
    the few seconds that Dave observed. I just checked's experimental MetOp A flare
    predictor, and it predicts a flare on the pass in question, but much lower in the sky.
    I also ran a search on Calsky for objects within 10 deg of overhead, within 15 min of 22 h PDT, and
    with a very faint magnitude cut-off, but did not recognize a known flarer among them.
    Random, brief flares from objects in Earth orbit are fairly common, but can be difficult to
    identify. Success depends strongly on the precision of the observation; the smaller the time and
    position uncertainty, the smaller the number of potential matches. Chance sightings, like Dave's
    understandably tend to be low in precision, but sometimes they can be confidently matched to an
    object, but not this time - at least not by me!
    Ted Molczan
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