Iridium Flare?

Copyright 2013 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights Reserved

Last month when I was shooting in Fremont Peak State Park with several Night Sky Photographers I was up on the peak taking some test shots for my star trail sequence I took this photo. After uploading the frames I was going through them and discovered I may have caught an Iridium Flare. Iridium Flare is the sun reflecting off communication satelites orbiting in space. ” The Iridium communication satellites have a peculiar shape with three polished door-sized antennas, 120° apart and at 40° angles with the main bus. The forward antenna faces the direction the satellite is traveling. Occasionally, an antenna reflects sunlight directly down at Earth, creating a predictable and quickly moving illuminated spot on the surface below of about 10 km diameter. To an observer this looks like a bright flash, or flare in the sky, with a duration of a few seconds.

Ranging up to -8 magnitude (rarely to a brilliant -9.5), some of the flares are so bright that they can be seen in the daytime; but they are most impressive at night. This flashing has caused some annoyance to astronomers, as the flares occasionally disturb observations and can damage sensitive equipment.

When not flaring, the satellites are often visible crossing the night sky at a typical magnitude of 6, similar to a dim star.” ~Wikipedia

I need to check out the site that has predictions to see if this could be Iridium Flare. It sure looks like it.

A penny for your thoughts...

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