RE: Svalbard mystery object

From: Richard Alan Keen via Seesat-l <>
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2015 12:54:03 -0600
I agree with your conclusion of natural origin.  I went to your web link, looked at the photos, and immediately thought "light pillars from ice crystals".
Here in Colorado they're fairly common when the temperature is below -15C (so you're not going to see them in Houston), and are due to low level ice crystals, not high clouuds.  You can get light pillars from the sun or moon in high cirrus clouds, but what you're seeing is reflections from ground lights.  I'm a meteorological observer, and this phenomenon has several names - light pillars, diamond dust, ice fog, and the prosaic "official" name that goes on weather reports, "Ice Crystals".
Years ago (1960 or so) there was a neat picture of these on the cover of Sky & Telescope with an article explaining that they were not aurora, which is the first time I ever heard of this.
Congrats on the eclipse - looks like you beat the odds up there!

Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:30:59 +0000 (UTC)
To: "" <>
Subject: Svalbard mystery object
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I spent last week in Svalbard at the northernmost inhabited settlement on the planet. ?This was my second trip there. ?The total eclipse of the Sun occurred March 20 and that night betweensunset and midnight I was able to see no less than 24 Iridium flares.??However, I need the assistance of experts on this list server to try to figure out the origin of a mystery object or objects that I photographed after midnight on March 21 from the area?near my hotel in Longyearbyen. ?I have built a web page with the account and 17 photos that will help perhaps. ?In all of my years of sky watching I have not seen an?apparition quite like this which appeared to resemble a rocket engine firing of some sort except that it occurs over ?a 45 minute interval. In fact, I had the impression that it was?visible well before I began photographing it with central brighenings occurring and reoccuring. ?If anyone has any technical explanation (especially anyone living at high latitudes where optical p!
phenomenon are common), please forward it to me.
Paul D. Maley


Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:15:34 +0000 (UTC)
To: Bj?rn Gimle <>
Cc: "" <>
Subject: Re: Svalbard mystery object
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I am increasingly convinced of a natural origin rather than space-related. Thanks to all for your helpful comments. ?After seeing 24 Iridium flares in a row, I assumed my eyes were playing tricks on me.Paul?Paul D. Maley

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