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Tags flash , light , night sky , star

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Old 27th August 2013, 03:29 AM   #1
Lorsayden
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Flash of light in the night sky

Hello all.

Last night i was sitting at my window and looked at the stars. Late at night i (maby) saw something that i
don't know what is. It looked like a flash from around a star in the big dipper, however, i can't figure out what
it was if it was anything at all and not just my mind playing tricks on me.

It wasn't a "inferno of light that illuminated the ground", the size was more porportional to that of a very
distant car that flashed its lights. The light only occured for about less than a second, and the light was
stationary, so it couldn't be a meteor. Besides, the light looked to be more bigger than the light trail a meteor
creates (in width, not length).

So, any idea of what it could be if not just my mind/eyes playing tricks on me?

-I am ruling out the possibility that it WAS indeed a car flashing its lights (unless the car had wings)
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Old 27th August 2013, 04:09 AM   #2
catsmate1
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Satellite flash perhaps, did it look like these images? The Iridium network is well know for such effects. Try this site to see if you can find it.
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Old 27th August 2013, 07:49 AM   #3
Biscuit
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If the window was closed the car does not need to have wings. It could have been a reflection of car lights off the glass that made it look as if it were in the sky.

It actually could be a meteor. Given the distances and the momentary visibility it could have had a "light trail" that you could not see or was drowned out by the light from the meteors final burn.

I think your three best answers, in no particular order, are reflected light off the window, satellite, or meteor.
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Old 27th August 2013, 08:17 AM   #4
CORed
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It might also have been distant lightning relfecting off of a small cloud (or even just dust or haze) in the area of the sky you were viewing.

Last edited by CORed; 27th August 2013 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 27th August 2013, 08:24 AM   #5
Hellbound
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A bright, yet distant, lightning bug.

Stealth fireworks.

The signal for the alien invasion to begin (they've advanced from crop circles to reflectors in communications technology).



Seriously, I think others have given the best possibilities. I'd have guessed satellite myself.

To toss out a few more ideas, a distant helicopoter? It could have been something like a police helicopter searchlight, but far enough away you didn't hear it. If you're in/near a large city, I'd move the probability of this one up. Toss in other types of aircraft here.

Also, around here a lot of businesses (usually car lots) use spotlights aimed into the sky at night as advertising gimmicks, and they can stay on quite late. Perhaps you saw one of these reflecting off something? Any spotlights running at local businesses?
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Old 27th August 2013, 03:13 PM   #6
B.S
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There are also meteors that are traveling more or less directly at you, thereby showing as just a point source of light.
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Old 27th August 2013, 07:01 PM   #7
rwguinn
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Originally Posted by Lorsayden View Post
Hello all.

Last night i was sitting at my window and looked at the stars. Late at night i (maby) saw something that i
don't know what is. It looked like a flash from around a star in the big dipper, however, i can't figure out what
it was if it was anything at all and not just my mind playing tricks on me.

It wasn't a "inferno of light that illuminated the ground", the size was more porportional to that of a very
distant car that flashed its lights. The light only occured for about less than a second, and the light was
stationary, so it couldn't be a meteor. Besides, the light looked to be more bigger than the light trail a meteor
creates (in width, not length).

So, any idea of what it could be if not just my mind/eyes playing tricks on me?

-I am ruling out the possibility that it WAS indeed a car flashing its lights (unless the car had wings)
check out http://www.heavens-above.com/ -it'll tell you when you'll see the next one--check Iridium flares box (be sure to tell it where you are!)
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Old 27th August 2013, 08:00 PM   #8
Trakar
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Satellite flash perhaps, did it look like these images? The Iridium network is well know for such effects. Try this site to see if you can find it.
Its impressive, if given the proper setup:


"okay, everyone pay attention now, watch this patch of sky right around here..."

(Just have a good watch, a good schedule for your lat and long, and know the night sky; I get to use it once a year or so. There are some pretty good calculators online.)
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Old 28th August 2013, 05:42 AM   #9
Vladimirr
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Satellite flash perhaps, did it look like (...urls clipped...) to see if you can find it.
This is the first thing I thought of when I read the first post.

Depending on the brightness of the OP's surroundings, it's possible he didn't see the dimmer parts of the track, so it may have looked stationary. They can be really bright, the best ones rival the full moon for apparent magnitude.

Warning - The images I saw when I clicked on that link were time-lapse photographs. Satellite flares look like a moving point of light, not a line.
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Old 28th August 2013, 09:12 AM   #10
Lorsayden
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sorry for not responding earlier, had internet problems. Thanks for all the
response though.

Anyways, i live about 5 km from the nearest city (no spotlights), and the light
that i saw was greater than that of a chopper or airplane.

I don't think it could be a car's light that reflected of the window, as most of the window lights up when a car passes the house. The light that i saw did not reflect in most of the window but was only occuring from a single point (but good idea though, thought of it myself at one point) There is a lot of trees just besides the window in an angle that would not allow distant cars to shine on the glass (only the ones that are near it can be seen reflected in the glass). There is also a curvature in the road that would only allow cars at a distance of up to 100 meters to shine on the group tree's.

So the best guess right now is the iridium flare from a satelite, and the pictures that catsmate1 linked to looks like it in the mangtitude of light produced, however, from what i have read about the iridium flare's today, they could last for about 10 seconds or more. The one i saw appeared in less than a second. Is it possible for them to occur in less than a second, but still be that bright?

I will try and check out rwguinn's link and see what i find out.

Thanks for the help
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Old 28th August 2013, 09:21 AM   #11
Dr.Sid
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Lot of satellites can cause flares. Iridium mostly produces strong flares with several seconds of length .. from main antennas. Spinning satellites can produce quite short flares though.
Iridium also moves rather fast, you would see movement even in short flash. They are on low polar orbits, so they always move south to north or north to south.
I wouldn't rule out a meteor. They can have all sorts of brightness and duration. And they can move toward you, in which case they look just like satellite flare.
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Old 28th August 2013, 10:01 AM   #12
Lorsayden
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I have just looked at rwguinn's link (great site). I could unfortunately not
find the flare. The time doesn't add up (02:55) and the flares does not come close to the big
dipper (in ursa major). Even the satellites doesn't pass over the big dipper at any point that
day. I did remember to set the observation location and all that and double checked to make
shure that the website saved the info.

So, as some of you suggested, i think that the meteor takes the lead on this one. for now
at least

Any more suggestions?
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Old 28th August 2013, 10:23 AM   #13
Biscuit
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Originally Posted by Lorsayden View Post

Any more suggestions?
I think we have our most likely suspects nailed down. Other options are going to drift further and further from what is most likely and will amount to little more than a guessing game.

Did you post this in GS&P because you think it was something paranormal or are looking for a paranormal explanation?
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Old 28th August 2013, 11:00 AM   #14
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Here's a timelapse showing all the satellites around the big dipper on the 27th.

Loads of iridiums and others as well as the location of meteor shower sources.

Give me your location and time and I can give you a more specific picture.

Click on the blue image for the time lapse Space.mov



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Last edited by Skwinty; 28th August 2013 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 28th August 2013, 11:41 AM   #15
Lorsayden
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Originally Posted by Biscuit View Post
I think we have our most likely suspects nailed
down. Other options are going to drift further and further from what is most
likely and will amount to little more than a guessing game.

Did you post this in GS&P because you think it was something paranormal or
are looking for a paranormal explanation?
I guess you are correct. Most likely it was an iridium flare or a meteor, But i
like to keep the options open as you will see

As to your question: I posted here, not for a paranormal
explanation/something paranormal, but because i was skeptical of what i saw
or if i saw anything at all. At the time of the thread start, i had no idea of the
existence of iridium flares, and no good idea of what it could be at all. So i
thought i would post here (also because i could not find a better topic to post
under). Looking only for a paranormal explanation and setting aside all rational
explanations would be counterproductive... Well at least in my oppinion


Originally Posted by Skwinty View Post
Here's a timelapse showing all the satellites around the big dipper on the 27th.

Loads of iridiums and others as well as the location of meteor shower sources.

Give me your location and time and I can give you a more specific picture
Wow... thats actually really close to where i saw it. I will PM you the location
and other necessary details. Why did those flares not pop up in the website?
ohh well
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Old 28th August 2013, 12:25 PM   #16
Skwinty
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Here you go Lorsayden.

Your location and time. 2:54 on the 27th August.

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Old 28th August 2013, 12:44 PM   #17
Lorsayden
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Originally Posted by Skwinty View Post
Here you go Lorsayden.

Your location and time. 2:54 on the 27th August.
Aaaand we have a 100% match. nice one, thank you. Exactly the place i saw it. Now i won't have to twist my head and loose sleep at not knowing what it is.

What program did you use for that?
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Old 28th August 2013, 12:48 PM   #18
Skwinty
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Starry Night Pro Plus version 6.4.3

There are no more program updates for this version of Starry Night but the asteroids, comets meteors and satellites update every second day.

Great program although a bit pricey now.
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