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  1. #1
    mr one question's Avatar
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    Arrow mysterious bright flashes in night sky?



    hi, i found this forum after finally deciding to google a phenomenon i've been witnessing for many years now. i apologize if this has been covered conclusively already, but i've checked the FAQ and although i found some previous posts which seem to describe similar events, i was not convinced that they were identical. any help would be appreciated.

    i live in the suburbs of london, england, and every once in a while, in the middle of the night, i notice a series of bright flashes in the sky which i am at a loss to explain. there is not a great deal of light pollution here, and i have seen them when the sky is both clear and cloudy. the flashes are variously bright green, or last night, seemingly paler/whitish in colour.

    i have noticed talk of iridium flares to explain the green hue, but this seems implausible, to me. observing from my window last night, the flashes seemed to originate miles apart from one another, and from different directions. imagine observing lightning, but seeing no lightning bolts and hearing no thunder- just random sky-wide flashes emanating from various directions over a protracted time period, each one quicker than the blink of an eye. i could see no objects in the sky which may relate to the lights either, such as meteors.

    the earliest time of day i can recall ever seeing these may have been before midnight, but usually they occur in the early hours of the morning, which i find odd as human/industrial activity is minimal at that time. it also doesn't explain the apparent distances between the flashes' points of origin.

    my only theory, which i admit is quite lay, is that our national power grid or telephone lines may be emitting some kind of electrical "pulse" during the night as part of some maintenance procedure. although i don't understand why this would be visible.

    if anyone can offer an explanation i would be very intrigued. thank you for your time.

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    AustinPSD's Avatar
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    I can offer some explanations of what these flashes are probably not:

    - they are unlikely to be "iridium flashes". The Iridium flashes originate with failed/destabilized Iridium communication satellites. The flashes are highly localized, and would require one to be looking at the satellite, or at an area within a degree or less off axis. They are not bright enough to illuminate the surrounding area or sky.

    - these flashes are almost certainly not originating with the power grid, or maintenance related procedures associated with it. Atmospheric illumination at that scale requires more energy that would be associated with leakage, EM-generated illumination, or any other activity on the grid. If by some chance the grid were involved, it would be in the process of failing catastrophically to produce atmospheric illumination at the energy level required.

    A better possibility is upper atmospheric lightning - no visible clouds are required for this phenomenon, and no audible thunder may be associated with it. The color variations are also possible depending upon the energy level and atmospheric layer/altitude involved, as well as prismatic effect from atmospheric moisture.
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  4. #3
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    Default

    that's a very interesting suggestion, i will look it up for myself. thanks. any other ideas are of course welcome!

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AustinPSD View Post
    I can offer some explanations of what these flashes are probably not:

    - they are unlikely to be "iridium flashes". The Iridium flashes originate with failed/destabilized Iridium communication satellites. The flashes are highly localized, and would require one to be looking at the satellite, or at an area within a degree or less off axis. They are not bright enough to illuminate the surrounding area or sky.

    I agree they are probably not Iridium flashes. However, the flash comes from operational satellites. There are three big flat panel, polished aluminum, antennas that are on a 45 degree angle. The operational satellites paths and attitudes are controlled, and knowing the angle of the sun, the point where the reflection hits the Earth can be accurately predicted. Even still the "flash" is no more than the sat getting super bright for a moment -8 is the brightest it will get if your at the center of the reflection. its not really a flash that lights up the sky. the failed satellites are not even listed in the Iridium flare predictions.
    Try this link for satellite and space station predictions.
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    Default Re: mysterious bright flashes in night sky?

    Hi, I live in Argentina and I've also seen some unexplained flashes in the sky, though the kind of flashing I saw does not exactly match what you describe. First in the summer of 1990 and then again in January or February 1993 I was at my parents home in the south of Argentina (Patagonia) on vacation. We have a terrific night sky down there and on some evenings we used to go to the backyard to do some star gazing and watch satellites pass by.
    The first time I saw this: I was watching the night sky towards the East, about 22:00 hs, and suddenly I saw a cluster of tiny flashes lighting up for a fraction of a second up there, as if a dozen small but bright stars had gone on and off at that point in the sky. I remember I looked at the area with my binoculars right away and saw a faint satellite just dissapearing northwards in the area. Nothing further happened. The area of the sky where the flashes happened was not bigger than my thumb at arm's length.
    The second time I was taking a long-exposure picture of the stars, with my camera aiming south. I was with a friend, and just as I was about to finish the exposure, again I saw the cluster of tiny, faraway flashes going off almost simultaneously, this time straight south. My friend saw it too. The flashes were too fast and small to leave any impression on the film.
    After twenty years I still cannot make any sense of what those tiny flashes were. They were no lightning nor satellites nor meteors. Just a cluster of tiny bright stars going on and off once and very fast. Any ideas?
    Cheers!
    Last edited by munrais; 01-23-2013 at 01:29 AM. Reason: Misspelling

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    Default Re: mysterious bright flashes in night sky?

    Quote Originally Posted by AustinPSD View Post
    A better possibility is upper atmospheric lightning - no visible clouds are required for this phenomenon, and no audible thunder may be associated with it. The color variations are also possible depending upon the energy level and atmospheric layer/altitude involved, as well as prismatic effect from atmospheric moisture.
    That would sound more like the possibility of blue jets, sprites or elves. Although I believe the sprites and elves have more of a red colour.
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    Default Re: mysterious bright flashes in night sky?

    Quote Originally Posted by munrais View Post
    They were no lightning nor satellites nor meteors. Just a cluster of tiny bright stars going on and off once and very fast. Any ideas?
    Cheers!
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    Default Re: mysterious bright flashes in night sky?

    Quote Originally Posted by Euan Mason View Post
    An aircraft?
    Plane? No. Absolutely not. Planes are completely ruled out as an explanation. It was a cluster of tiny flashes that went on and off once in the sky.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: mysterious bright flashes in night sky?

    I guess ill state what we are all thinking...secret government projects.
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