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Thread: Iridium flare and Envisat

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    Default Iridium flare and Envisat



    The sky was not the best. I started at 7 pm, and until 7.30 I only saw one galaxy right above me: NGC 1003 in Perseus. Then I hurried and went outside the block, rounded it and jogged a few hundred meters to an open spot, cuz at 7.34 there was to be an Iridium flare beside Ursa Minor! I searched frantically for the Big Dipper, it wasn't where I thought it would be, then I found it further to the East, ok, now where the heck is the North Star for Ursa Minor, I'm running out of time, look that big bright thing must be Polaris, wait, that's like Venus caliber, what in the world is it, wait it's moving! It's the Flare!! Woow!In a couple of seconds it started to dim and dimmed until it remained an almost invisible little starlet moving down the horizon. But it was supercool! I have to catch it next time from the beginning, when it starts flaring up!

    Then I looked to the Big Dipper and inside one minute Envisat has to appear! I knew it had to go right "through" Ursa's "knee" star, because I had a simulation on Stellarium. Oh and there it is, a nigh invisible lil spot (cuz even Ursa's main stars were washed out), and there it passed the knee, going going...and turned invisible in the murk before even reaching the horizon! But it was Envisat I had googled images about it and tried to imagine it now.

    It was nice, thanks, Bryan, for pointing the Iridium Flare out to me, Alan, for the info! Or vice versa, i forget Any other interesting peculiarities in the sky that you guys know of?
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    bladekeeper (02-17-2017)

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    Default Re: Iridium flare and Envisat

    Iridium flares are way cool - it's one of the things we try to watch when doing OutReach events. I had heard of them, but never seen one until guided by our club president. Now, I can't get enough!

    I am still nominally hunting for the elusive "double flare" where you see two sats at once!

    Congrats!

    Jack
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    Default Re: Iridium flare and Envisat

    Way to go Milan, glad you caught it. Keep checking back to Heavens-Above.com for future events. If at some point you can get your hands on a pair of binoculars that might help you spot and follow them prior to and after the flare.

    Also - remember the front two stars of the dipper asterism are your pointers that lead you to Polaris to the north. You can also follow these same two stars in the opposite direction to lead you to Leo. If you follow the curve of the dipper handle to the south it will lead you to Arcturus in Bootes. Also if you follow the straight part of the dipper handle from Megrez (Delta UMa) through Mizar (Zeta UMa) onward it will lead you to Hercules. If you recall you can follow a line from from Phad (Gamma UMa) diagonally across the bowl of the dipper through Dubhe (Alpha UMa) and onward to find the location of M81 and M82. But if you reverse that line and go from Dubhe through Phad and onward you will come to Chara (Beta CVn). So as you can see the stars of the big dipper can be used in various ways to lead beginners to other constellations, stars and even objects.
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    Default Re: Iridium flare and Envisat

    Congrats on your first Iridium flare, Milan! Lots of fun to watch these!

    Next time you have one, have some friends over and at the proper time, point to the area and say "Oh yeah? Watch this!" and let the flare begin! They'll think you are a wizard!
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    Default Re: Iridium flare and Envisat

    Congrats on the flare! They are very fun to look for and observe. There is supposed to be a magnitude -8 one here this evening. I hope the clouds don't move in first.

    Bob
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    Default Re: Iridium flare and Envisat

    Quote Originally Posted by bladekeeper View Post
    Congrats on your first Iridium flare, Milan! Lots of fun to watch these!

    Next time you have one, have some friends over and at the proper time, point to the area and say "Oh yeah? Watch this!" and let the flare begin! They'll think you are a wizard!
    You know, I've been thinking the same thing!
    @ Alan: Pff.. hard to process all that info, let alone carry it in your head like you probably do! How do you do it??
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    Default Re: Iridium flare and Envisat

    Quote Originally Posted by milanpicard View Post
    You know, I've been thinking the same thing!
    @ Alan: Pff.. hard to process all that info, let alone carry it in your head like you probably do! How do you do it??
    Oh you'd be surprised what I carry around in my head. NGC and IC numbers, star hopping routes to many objects, what constellation many objects are in, etc. But then again, I might not remember what I had for lunch the day before, where I laid my glasses, or if I zipped my pants up! It all evens out as the old computer can only hold so many GBs of data!
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    Default Re: Iridium flare and Envisat

    Quote Originally Posted by KT4HX View Post
    Oh you'd be surprised what I carry around in my head.
    Yeah. Hams are like that ...

    ;-)

    de N4FFD
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    Default Re: Iridium flare and Envisat

    Quote Originally Posted by JackC View Post
    Yeah. Hams are like that ...

    ;-)

    de N4FFD

    Very true, lots of multi-tasking going on at times! Not so different than this hobby to be honest.
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    Default Re: Iridium flare and Envisat

    I remember the first time I saw an Iridium Flare.

    It was shortly after I got into Astronomy with my Mak and had set it up early one evening on my balcony,
    aligned the RDF and gone back inside to make a cup tea, waiting for darkness.
    I was coming back out with my tea when I saw this bright star due South, and I thought, thats gotta
    be Sirius, thinking that it did seem too early for Sirius to be that far west.

    And then in front of my eyes, I saw "Sirius" get smaller and disappear

    I was like, "Darn ! did we just lose Sirius !!!"

    Hurried back inside, brought up Stellarium, reversed time, and saw the flare on the computer,
    clicked and saw Iridium (Iridum 35 I believe it was). 15 min of google and wikipedia later, I had the
    HeavensAbove app on my phone. I have seen flares many times since but never that bright.

    I was surprised as to how few people I talked to, knew about these flares, I certainly had no idea these existed
    before I saw the flare.

    A few years earlier, and I would have sworn I just saw a UFO

    Milan, You picked a great time to see the flare, I believe in a couple of years, they will be gone.
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